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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In an Aug. 12 unpublished memorandum opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals had reversed the trial court's denial of the Gunashekars' pro se motion to continue after their attorney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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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