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High court to hear insurance, drug, murder cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court accepted three cases June 3, including two cases in which the Indiana Court of Appeals were split in their rulings on a drug case and an insurance case.  

In Lisa Gray v. State of Indiana, No.82S01-1106-CR-328, the majority of appellate judges reversed Lisa Gray’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana, finding the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gray constructively possessed the drug. The majority cited Gee v. State, 810 N.E.2d 338, 340 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), to support their decision.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented and disagreed with how the additional circumstances in Gee were used by the majority to determine intent to maintain dominion and control over the drug. He also believed that the state produced evidence that Gray was in close proximity to the marijuana and it was in plain view. That should be more than enough evidence to find she knew of the drug, he wrote.

In Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Linda Good and Randall Good, No. 85S04-1106-CV-326, the lower appellate court was split on the definition of “ever” on a home insurance application when it came to whether the homeowners’ insurance coverage was ever “declined, cancelled, or non-renewed.”

A March 2003 fire destroyed Linda and Randall Good’s home. They sued for breach of contract after the insurer held off paying the claim because of the investigation of the fire. Allied countersued, arguing that Linda misrepresented her insurance cancellation history on its application regarding whether she ever had insurance coverage denied or cancelled. The jury awarded more than $1 million in damages to Linda, but the Court of Appeals reversed, finding Linda’s misrepresentation on the application was material.

Judge L. Mark Bailey dissented, finding the application field about past insurance cancellations was unclear as to whether “ever” included all insurance companies or just Allied.

The justices also accepted Brice Webb v. State of Indiana, No. 71S05-1106-CR-329, in which Brice Webb appealed his conviction of murder for shooting his girlfriend. In a not-for-publication decision, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, finding the trial court didn’t err in refusing to instruct the jury on reckless homicide as a lesser included offense to murder; it didn’t err in allowing the state to charge Webb as an habitual offender beyond the statutory period allowed for amending charges; and it didn’t abuse its discretion in admitting the videotape of Webb’s police interview.

In addition to these cases, the justices also took Richmond State Hospital, et al. v. Paula Brattain, et al., No. 49S02-1106-CV-327.

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

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