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Court will hear attorney withdrawal case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to take a case exploring how litigants can proceed on their own after the attorney withdraws prior to trial, particularly when a language barrier may exist.

Justices on Thursday granted transfer in the civil case of Rudrappa and Jayashree Gunashekar v. Kay Grose, d/b/a America's Affordable Housing J&K Manufacturing, No. 02A03-0712-CV-614.

In an Aug. 12 unpublished memorandum opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court's denial of the Gunashekars' pro se motion to continue after their attorney withdrew from the case six weeks before trial.

The Allen County case stems from a 2002 fire that damaged a commercial building the Gunashekars owned. They hired a contractor for $147,337 of repair work, but the insurance coverage came in less than that amount. The Gunashekars' payment to the contractor wasn't honored, and that resulted in a lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial in late July 2007. The Gunashekars' attorney withdrew in mid-June, and the trial court granted the motion to withdraw and ordered that no continuance would be granted. The couple was ultimately ordered to pay the damages, as well as treble damages, but a new attorney argued that the court should have allowed them to continue the trial in order to find new counsel.

"There is little in the record to indicate whether the Gunashekars foresaw (their attorney's) withdrawal, were at fault or were diligent in attempting to secure new counsel," the court wrote. "Nevertheless, (that attorney) withdrew six weeks before trial of a complex case with non-native English speakers potentially subject to treble damages. While several relevant concerns suggest that (his) withdrawal may have compromised the Gunashekars' presentation of their case, nothing indicates that Grose would have then been prejudiced by a delay."

The appellate court remanded for a new trial in the 2-1 decision, but Judge Ezra Friedlander disagreed that the trial court's denial constituted abuse of discretion and that a more detailed look at the facts is necessary. The judge would opt for more trial court discretion in this case and more evidence that a language barrier existed, he wrote.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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