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Death penalty, election arguments Thursday

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a death penalty case, a dispute whether the elected mayor of Terre Haute was eligible to run for office, and whether an order for a mother's voluntary termination of parental rights should have been set aside.

At 9 a.m., the justices will hear Daniel Ray Wilkes v. State of Indiana, No. 10S00-0808-DP-453. Daniel Ray Wilkes was convicted in Clark County for the murders of an Evansville woman and her two children. The jury failed to reach a unanimous decision as to Wilkes' sentence, so Vanderburgh Circuit Judge Carl Heldt issued a death sentence.

This was the first time since Indiana law changed in 2002 that a judge had to determine the sentence in a capital murder case after a jury deadlocked. The state law amendment requires judges to follow jury sentencing recommendations in capital cases. In the direct appeal, Wilkes argued various errors occurred during his trial and sentencing.

Arguments in Kevin D. Burke v. Duke Bennett, No. 84S01-0904-CV-148, begin at 10:05 a.m. Duke Bennett was elected mayor of Terre Haute in 2007, but his opponent, Kevin Burke, contested the election because he claimed Bennett was ineligible to run for office since he worked for a nonprofit that received federal funds. Bennett was declared the winner, but the Indiana Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision reversed and held that Bennett is disqualified, the mayor's office is vacant, and a special election is required.

The high court will also hear arguments at 10:55 a.m. in a case involving the denial of a mother's motion to set aside an order for voluntary termination of her parental rights. In the case In Re: Termination of parent-child relationship of M.B. and S.B., No. 34S02-0805-JV-437, the Howard Circuit Court denied the mother's Trial 60(B) motion to set aside the order voluntarily ending her parental rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed in the matter of first impression, ruling the addendum to her consent providing for post-adoption visitation was unenforceable because a partial termination of parental rights doesn't exist under Indiana law and severing the addendum didn't frustrate the basic purpose of the remainder of the agreement.

All arguments will be webcast live from the Supreme Court courtroom.

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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