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 I did some double checking, and it appears I.C. 25-20.5 has been repealed, so feel free to see a hypnotist for any reason with a clear conscience.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online and came across websites that listed “dumb” and “stupid” Indiana laws, but the majority of them have since been repealed or were no longer listed when I searched the code.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 Feel free to include ones that you know have since been repealed.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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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