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High court grants 5 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted five transfers late on July 2, including cases on possession of cocaine in a family housing complex and "no fault" attendance policies in workplaces.

In Shewanda B. Beattie v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-0805-CR-247, Shewanda Beattie's conviction of possession of cocaine in a family housing complex was reversed by the Indiana Court of Appeals because the jury acquitted her of the lesser-included offense of possession of cocaine. The unanimous panel didn't reverse her conviction due to insufficient evidence, but because the inconsistency in the jury's verdict left them unable to determine what evidence the jury believed. The judges relied on Owsley v. State, 769 N.E.2d 181 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), to reverse Beattie's conviction and remand for a new trial on the charge of possession of cocaine in a family housing complex.

In Gary Dennis Jackson v. State of Indiana, No. 39A01-0711-CR-528, the Court of Appeals reversed Gary Jackson's conviction of battery resulting in serious bodily injury, ruling the trial court abused its discretion by granting a mistrial after discovering five jurors read a newspaper article about jury selection for Jackson's second trial. The trial court didn't explain why it granted the mistrial instead of admonishing the jury. The discharge of the jury at his second trial operated as an acquittal and the subsequent trial was a violation of his right to be free from double jeopardy. Judge Cale Bradford dissented, believing the trial court was within its discretion to grant the mistrial and permit a retrial without violating Jackson's double jeopardy protections.

In Gloria Murray, et al. v. City of Lawrenceburg, No. 15A04-0803-CV-122, the majority affirmed the trial court denial of the city's motion for judgment on the pleadings because the appellate court couldn't say Gloria Murray and others were required to bring a claim for inverse condemnation because the ownership of the disputed property hasn't been determined. The majority also reversed the denial of Murray's demand for a jury trial. The case was remanded to resolve the timeliness of her claims, sever the timely filed distinct legal claims, and grant the demand for a jury trial as to those claims. Chief Judge John Baker dissented, believing the result reached by the majority will effectively preclude most, if not all, inverse condemnation actions in the future.

The high court also granted transfer to two cases involving the issue of "no-fault" attendance policies, where the Court of Appeals had split in their decisions regarding the reasonableness of such policies: Lisa Beckingham v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and Cenveo Corp., No. 93A02-0808-EX-771, and John Giovanoni II v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and Clarian Health Partners, Inc., No. 93A02-0806-EX-545. Both Lisa Beckingham and John Giovanoni were fired as a result of multiple excused absences.

In Beckingham's appeal, the Court of Appeals held the reasoning set forth in Jeffboat Inc. v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Division, 464 N.E.2d 377 (Ind. Ct. App. 1984), and Beene v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Employment and Training Services, 528 N.E.2d 842 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988), is the better rationale for determining the reasonableness of an employer's attendance policy. The majority in Beckingham's appeal affirmed she was discharged for just cause under Indiana Code Section 22-4-15-1(d)(2). Judge Edward Najam dissented, writing he would have followed the reasoning of the majority in Giovanoni, which ruled that termination for unsatisfactory attendance must be analyzed solely under section (d)(3). In Giovanoni, the majority ruled Love v. Heritage House Convalescent Center, 463 N.E.2d 478, 482, (Ind. Ct. App. 1983) provided a sounder model for determining eligibility for unemployment benefits when the employee is fired for attendance issues.

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