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High court asked to intervene in recount

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The Indiana Supreme Court is being asked to toss out a trial judge's order for a Terre Haute mayoral race recount because the petitioner failed to include the winner's middle initial.

Attorney James Bopp Jr. with Terre Haute law firm Bopp Coleson & Bostrom filed an emergency request Thursday afternoon for the justices to intervene in the recount challenge, contending that Vigo Circuit Judge David Bolk didn't have jurisdiction to order a recount from the Nov. 6 election. Democratic Mayor Kevin Burke asked for a recount shortly after losing by 107 votes to Republican Duke Bennett.

But Bopp argues that Judge Bolk, who serves as both a Circuit and Superior judge, didn't have jurisdiction because of the variance in Bennett's name as it appeared in court papers and on the ballot. On the ballot, his full name with middle initial "A" is listed, while the challenge petition did not list that initial.

Therefore, the court can't rule on the recount, Bopp's brief says.

Earlier this week, Judge Bolk denied motions to dismiss recount and election challenge petitions on the name variance grounds, leading to the Supreme Court filing.

"While such an error might seem trivial, it was significant enough of a distinction to the legislature to amend recount of election requirements to specifically require a candidate's name as written on the ballot in a recount proceeding," the brief states, "and is likewise enough of an omission to divest (Vigo Circuit Court and Judge Bolk) of jurisdiction."

Bopp cites three Indiana Supreme Court cases as authority that specific names must be included and mirror the ballot: State ex Rel Young v. Noble Circuit Court, 332 N.E.2d 102 (Ind. 1975); Marra v. Clapp, 262 N.E.2d 631 (Ind. 1970); and State v. Lake Circuit Court, 121 N.E.2d 647, 649 (Ind. 1954).

This recount petition suffers a similar, fatal flaw as those cases, Bopp contends in his brief, and Burke's doesn't meet state law requirements.

Denying this petition would create extreme hardship for the newly-elected mayor by being "unnecessarily delayed" in taking the position and subject him to further scrutiny beyond the judicial jurisdictional scope, Bopp's brief states.

A trial has been scheduled for Dec. 17 on the recount challenges, according to the local court calendar, but that may not happen depending on action from the state's high court.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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