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High court grants transfers with opinions

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer with opinion to two cases today and granted transfer to another, which it remanded to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The high court issued opinions in Louis Richard Harris v. State, No. 48S02-0812-CR-637, in which Louis Richard Harris appealed his 100-year sentence for child molesting; and in Ky Morton v. Jerome P. Ivacic, No. 71S03-0708-CV-386, a tenant/landlord dispute from small claims court.

In Harris, the Supreme Court revised Harris' 50-year sentence each on two counts of child molesting to be served consecutively and ordered they be served concurrently. Harris was convicted of molesting his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter to whom he was a father figure.

Harris had committed the crimes before the Indiana legislature amended the state's sentencing statute, so the presumptive sentencing scheme applies in his case. Under this scheme, a Class A felony child-molesting conviction had a standard sentence of 30 years, with no more than 20 years added for aggravating circumstances or more than 10 years subtracted for mitigating circumstances.

The trial court identified three aggravating circumstances but didn't explain why they warranted consecutive sentences instead of enhanced concurrent sentences, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan. The justices found Harris' previous convictions of traffic violations and theft aren't significant aggravators in relation to his child-molesting charges. The aggravating circumstances warrant imposing an enhanced sentence for child molesting, but not consecutive sentences, Justice Sullivan wrote. The high court remanded with instructions to issue an amended sentencing order or make any other documents or docket entries necessary to impose a revised sentence consistent with this opinion, without a hearing.

In Morton v. Ivacic, the Supreme Court reversed the Small Claims Division of St. Joseph Superior Court order of immediate possession of a rental property to Jerome Ivacic, the landlord of Ky Morton. Morton fell behind in his rent for several months but had paid it back at the time of the court hearing and didn't believe he should be evicted.

The justices ruled Morton attempted to provide the court with testimony and a notarized affidavit and other documentation in his defense against charges levied by Ivacic, but the court denied Morton due process. The transcript of the hearing appears to indicate from the beginning an expectation that Ivacic was entitled to an order of immediate possession, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.

"Even taking into account for the informality of the small claims process, Morton was not given an adequate opportunity to say yes or no to any of Ivacic's allegations at the prejudgment hearing," he wrote.

The Supreme Court also granted transfer with a remand to the Court of Appeals in the post-conviction appeal of Raphael Miles v. State, 82A01-0711-PC-529.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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