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General Assembly reaches midpoint

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At the midway point in this Indiana General Assembly session, dozens of bills died this week when one house didn't vote on them while others moved on for further consideration.

An Indiana Lawyer review of the legislation listed on the state legislature's Web site shows that 135 of 420 Senate bills and 104 of 391 House bills survived, though many bills mirrored similar measures or have even been merged into other legislation that's moved on. The totals include numerous vehicle bills that could have been used for particular issues if needed as the legislative session progressed.

Some pieces of legislation that died involved court reporting licensing, an oversight commission for the state's judicial computer systems, and a resolution involving judicial mandates. One bill that would have dubbed any non-attorneys' illegal practice of law as racketeering activity survived a House committee but didn't get a final vote, to the surprise of the those in the legal community watching the legislation.

But various bills moved on, including legislation that would: expand the statutory framework for problem-solving courts, repeal a 2009 special session change giving the Indiana Department of Child Services more authority on out-of-state placements, revise the state's grandparent visitation laws, allow Marion County to convert all of its commissioners into magistrates at no expense to the state, expand the authority of the Attorney General's Office and Solicitor General in various ways, and allow magistrates statewide to serve as part-time senior judges. A bill that would revise Indiana's rights of publicity statue and create an interim commission to study that issue more in-depth also continues to move.

Even in the tough budget times, when some courts held off requesting new judicial officers and resources, lawmakers approved the only request for a new court that came before it so far this session: HB 1269. It would both unify the Clark Circuit and Superior courts and also create a new Bartholomew Superior Court in July 2011 and pay for it using a fee of at least $20 on each traffic infraction. Lawmakers had expressed concern previously because it could change how the state handles the state court funding, but the bill passed the House unanimously by a 98-0 vote.

One close vote on a legal-related bill was with HB 1255, which involves proof of collateral-source payments and would prohibit a court from admitting into evidence any write-off, discount, or other deduction associated with a collateral-source payment in a personal injury or wrongful death action. This topic was the subject of an Indiana Supreme Court decision last year in Stanley v. Walker, 906 N.E.2d 852 (Ind. 2009), which held that the state's collateral source statute doesn't bar evidence of discounted amounts to determine the reasonable value of medical services provided to plaintiffs in those actions. The bill made it out of committee, and representatives voted 57-40 to send it to the Senate.

Now, the opposite house of the General Assembly must consider all legislation, and some issues that have died already could be weaved into bills that are still alive. Committee meetings begin again next week, and each side has until March 3 to take a final vote on legislation and then, if necessary, work out final details in conference committees before the session ends March 14.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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