High court takes 4 cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to four cases, including two dealing with whether a trial court should assert exemptions in garnishment actions on behalf of pro se debtors.

The justices took Quincy and Shannon Branham v. Rodney Varble and Norman Chastain, No. 62S01-1103-SC-141, and Quincy and Shannon Branham v. Rodney and Carol Varble, No. 62S04-11034-SC-139, in which Quincy and Shannon Branham argued the trial court acted contrary to law when it ordered them to pay $50 a month toward small-claims judgments, make repeated court appearances, and required that Quincy seek five jobs per week.

The Indiana Court of Appeals judges agreed that the part of the order requiring Quincy to seek five jobs a week should be reversed. The majority in both cases upheld the rest of the order and Judge Terry Crone dissented. The judges split over the application of Mims v. Commercial Credit Corp., 261 Ind. 591, 307 N.E.2d 867 (1974). In Mims, the Indiana Supreme Court acknowledged that the general rule is that the burden is on the debtor to claim the exemption. If the debtor is represented pro se, then the court must determine which exemption would be least burdensome.

Judge Crone believed that Mims unambiguously requires that trial courts assert exemptions on behalf of pro se debtors and that the majority construed it far too narrowly in the instant case. But the majority felt that to adopt Judge Crone’s view would essentially recast the role of the judiciary from traditional decision-making to one of advocacy for the parties and that the procedure proposed in Mims was specific to the case before it. No other case has adopted the interpretation of Mims proposed by Judge Crone.

The justices also accepted Allstate Insurance Company v. Timothy Clancy, et al., No. 45S03-1103-CV-138, in which the majority of COA judges reversed the order granting a motion to compel the production of documents from Allstate. The trial court found that by raising an advice of counsel defense, the insurance company had waived the attorney-client privilege, and therefore the documents could be produced.

The majority held that the “fairly debatable” defense, absent any other connection to reliance upon advice of counsel, is tantamount to a good-faith defense and insufficient to waive attorney-client privilege. Judge Margret Robb dissented, writing that when an insurer asserts a claim that is “fairly debatable” refers to a legal issue, it necessarily relies on the advice of counsel and waives the attorney-client privilege.

The Supreme Court granted transfer and released an opinion March 10 in David K. Murphy v. State of Indiana, No. 18S02-1103-CR-142, in which they affirmed that the trial court should be the one to determine whether a defendant who completes an educational degree before sentencing is entitled to educational credit time.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.