Odd Indiana laws

January 17, 2011
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A recent appearance by former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi on an Indianapolis-area radio morning show prompted a discussion among Indiana Lawyer staffers about strange laws in Indiana. I just caught the tail end of Brizzi’s time on the show, but he had to answer a multiple-choice question as to which of the listed things were illegal in Indiana. If he got it correct, a caller would win a prize.

His question was something like “which of the following is illegal under Indiana law: visiting a hypnotist without a physician’s referral to lose weight, stop smoking, or stop swearing?” He answered correctly: stop swearing.

Indiana Code 25-20.5-1-23 made it illegal for a hypnotist to treat someone without a doctor’s referral for mental illness, addictions, various orders, pain control, or in preparation for a medical or dental procedure. But you could go see a hypnotist legally to lose weight or stop smoking without having your doctor OK it. I did some double checking, and it appears I.C. 25-20.5 has been repealed, so feel free to see a hypnotist for any reason with a clear conscience.

I did a search online and came across websites that listed “dumb” and “stupid” Indiana laws, but the majority of them have since been repealed or were no longer listed when I searched the code. Apparently hotel sheets had to be exactly 99 inches long and 81 inches wide, baths couldn’t be taken from October to March (gosh, Indiana must have been smelly in the winters), and a man over the age of 18 could be arrested for statutory rape if the female passenger in his car wasn’t wearing socks and shoes and was under the age of 17.

I did find two on the site that were still in effect. It’s against the law to catch a fish with dynamite, firearms, crossbow, or your bare hands, although it would be a pretty impressive feat to grab a fish or shoot it with a crossbow.

Another strange law - Liquor stores can’t sell cold soft drinks or water. I don’t know the back story as to why, perhaps to prevent children from wanting to come in and buy a soda or decrease the chance that you’ll break open your freshly purchased bottle of rum and mix it with a cold soda right then and there?

As lawyers and judges, you must have come across some odd laws. We’d like to know what you’ve found as you’ve practiced. Feel free to include ones that you know have since been repealed.

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  • Indiana Pi Bill
    The strangest Indiana law that I had ever heard of was a bill, not a law. In 1897, an Indiana Representative introduced a bill into the General Assembly to have pi mean something other than "3.a string of numbers." Wikipedia even has an article about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill
  • Baseball on Sunday and English First
    2 nominees:

    Code of 1886 or thereabouts: Article 3, Section 313 of Crimes and Criminal Procedure: It was against the law for any person to play baseball where a fee was charged, or where a prize or reward depended on the result, on "the first day of the week, commonly known as Sunday." Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25.

    And, though not a criminal law, but one of interest in view of legislation relating to language in government documents, the Code of 1852 required that the Constitution and Laws of Indiana be published in English and German.
  • Indiana Pi Bill
    Ri are round, cornbread are square

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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