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High-profile federal trials slated for early 2009

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The first half of the year is shaping up to be a time of high-profile trials for Indiana's federal courts.

The U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana's first-ever federal death-penalty trial is slated for March. In May, a major energy company is expected to go through its second liability trial on clean-air violations while a former mayor is set to be tried on civil racketeering charges.

A capital trial is set to begin March 30 before Judge Richard Young in Evansville in the case of U.S.A. v. Jarvis Brown, No. 3:06-cr-00014. Brown faces execution for being part of a drug-trafficking conspiracy that resulted in four murders and eight people being shot in Indianapolis and Evansville several years ago.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney in Indianapolis set May 11 to begin the nine-day trial in U.S.A., et al. v. Cinergy Corp., et al., No. 1:99-cv-1693, which would be the second trial within a year. In December, Judge McKinney determined that the original two-week liability trial in May 2008 - the nation's first to go before a jury on the issue of whether slight modifications at coal-fired power plants triggered the need for new pollution control equipment - was tainted because of potential attorney and witness misconduct. The judge ultimately opted not to sanction the lawyers involved, but he upheld his decision to set aside the original jury verdict finding that Cinergy had violated the U.S. Clean Air Act at its Wabash plant in Terre Haute but not at four other plants.

A first remedy trial happened earlier this month, but the discovery and remaining remedy aspects are stayed until after the second trial is complete.

That comes just two weeks before State v. Pastrick, et al., No. 3:04-cv-00506, is set to begin in the Northern District of Indiana. Former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick and top mayoral aides James Fife and Timothy Raykovich face federal racketeering charges in that case. They are the only remaining defendants from an original 26 named in the case accusing high-ranking city officials of illegally using public money to pave sidewalks and other work in order to influence votes during the 1999 Democratic primary election. Senior Judge James Moody in Hammond on Friday set May 26 to begin the trial, which was postponed from January.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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