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In Brief - 7/31/13

IL Staff
July 31, 2013
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The IL Daily delivers legal news to your email inbox. In case you missed it, following is a recap of some of the stories reported online since the last issue of Indiana Lawyer. To subscribe to the IL Daily, visit www.theindianalawyer.com.

Judges formalize reaffirmation of City-County Building firearms ban

Marion County judges on July 19 formally reaffirmed a 2007 policy banning firearms from the City-County Building. Law-enforcement personnel and judicial officers are exempt from the prohibition.The reaffirmation came in response to concerns about the impact of a 2011 law that widely voided local gun regulations. The law allows courthouses to continue to ban weapons. However, Indiana Code 35-47-11-1.4(5) makes an exception for common areas of courthouses or parts used by residential tenants or private businesses.Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg in May told the Marion Superior Court Executive Committee that allowing guns in common areas of the building would be impractical.“Due to the configuration of courtrooms, penal facilities … and court offices throughout the building, (it) cannot be rendered safe except by the prohibition of weapons in the entire building, including common areas,” reads the reaffirmation the committee officially approved.

2 new magistrates appointedin Hendricks County

The Hendricks Superior Court is welcoming two new judges to the bench.Attorneys Tammy Somers and Michael “Joe” Manning have been appointed as magistrates for the Superior Court. Somers accepted the position effective July 1, 2013. Manning accepted the position effective Aug. 5, 2013.A duel robbing ceremony for both new appointees will be held at noon Aug. 2 in Superior Court 1 in the Hendricks County Courthouse, 51 W. Main St., Danville. All Hendricks County Bar Association members are invited to attend.Somers previously served in the Office of the Indiana Attorney General as deputy attorney general. Prior to joining the attorney general’s office, she served as magistrate for the Lake County Superior Court and deputy prosecutor for the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office.A graduate of Valparaiso University Law School, Somers also recently completed the Indiana State Bar Association’s Leadership Development Academy.Manning previously operated the Manning Law Office, in Danville, where he focused primarily on criminal defense. He also served as deputy prosecutor for both the Hendricks County Prosecutor’s Office and Marion County Prosecutor’s Office before entering private practice.Manning is a graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

ACLU of Indiana to look at civic literacy at August event

The August edition of the ACLU’s First Wednesdays program will ask if democracy can survive given the current state of civic literacy in the United States.Attorney Mickey Maurer, who is chairman of IBJ Media Corp., which publishes Indiana Lawyer, will moderate the panel discussion that features We the People coach Michael Gordon; Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek); and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor Sheila Suess Kennedy.The panel will look at the consequences of poor civic education and Indiana’s civic literacy report card. The inaugural Indiana Civic Health Index found the state’s voter turnout and registration are among the lowest in the country.The panel discussion begins at noon Aug. 7 in the WFYI Reuben Community Room, 1630 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. The First Wednesdays program is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch. The ACLU of Indiana will provide drinks.

Grants available for family and child permanency projects

The Indiana Court Improvement Program is accepting applications for projects that are designed to improve the safety and permanency of children and families involved in children in need of services and/or termination of parental rights proceedings.Applicants could receive funding from three areas – basic court improvement grant funds; data collection and analysis grant funds; or training and education grant funds. Applicants should demonstrate their efforts as sustaining project operations through identification of goals, outcomes and additional funding resources.More information is available on the court’s website, http://www.in.gov/judiciary/cip/index.htm.  Applications are due July 26 to the Indiana Judicial Center.

ACLU files suit over denial of prisoner’s request to pray in group

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana announced July 22 that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a prisoner who practices the African Hebrew Israelite religion because the Pendleton Correctional Facility won’t allow the religious group to congregate for prayer unless a volunteer is present.“The DOC does not have the right to deny prisoners an intrinsic element of their religious beliefs,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk. “Federal law protects people from substantial burdens on their religious free exercise, and the equal protection clause guarantees that laws will be applied equally.”The lawsuit, Paul Veal v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction, et al., 1:13-CV-1167, alleges that the facility, run by the Department of Correction, is in violation of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.The ACLU of Indiana says the facility doesn’t require volunteers to be present for other religious groups to congregate. The suit was filed in the Indianapolis Division of the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Indiana.

Lilly, Simon lawyers makebest-paid general counsel list

Attorneys for two Indianapolis-based Fortune 500 companies are among the 50 best-paid general counsel, according to a list published July 22 by Corporate Counsel Magazine.  Retired Eli Lilly and Co. general counsel Robert A. Armitage and Simon Property Group general counsel James Barkley respectively ranked 32nd and 41st on the 2013 General Counsel Compensation Survey.Armitage inched up from 34th on the 2012 rankings that were based on 2011 earnings. The survey said his compensation for 2012 totaled $7,505,514 – about $1.8 million in salary and bonus compensation plus about $5.7 million in stock option earnings. Armitage retired at the beginning of this year and was succeeded by Michael J. Harrington.Barkley didn’t make the Top 100 in the 2012 survey. According to the 2013 list, he earned $2,472,046 in 2012. That included salary and bonus pay of a little more than $1.5 million and stock option income of more than $900,000.

Judge: Continuing current sequestration cuts would be ‘devastating’

A federal judge implored a Senate panel July 23 to provide sufficient funding for U.S. courts, warning that the general public will lose the access to justice that has been a hallmark of this country.Judge Julia S. Gibbons, chair of the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts.“Our workload does not go away because of budget shortfalls,” Gibbons said. “Deep cuts mean that the judiciary cannot perform adequately its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”Under sequestration, federal courts will receive 5 percent less funding in the current fiscal year than in fiscal year 2012.The current staffing level of the clerks of court, probation and pretrial services personnel is the lowest since 1999, yet the workload is higher now than 14 years ago.The budget cut $52 million from the federal defender program. Gibbons pointed out that nearly 90 percent of federal criminal defendants require court-appointed counsel. The federal defender offices have downsized about 6 percent since October, and it’s anticipated that staff will be furloughed an average of 15 days for the rest of this year.Gibbons also testified that funding for courthouse security has dropped 30 percent, leading to increased risks in public safety.The judiciary is concerned that continuing at current sequestration levels into fiscal year 2014 would result in the loss of additional court and defender jobs, as well as cuts in services.

Judge issues gag order in Bei Bei Shuai case

The judge in the case of a woman charged with murder and attempted feticide in the death of her newborn daughter on July 25 ordered prosecutors, defense attorneys and others involved in the case not to speak about it outside court.

Marion Superior Criminal Division 3 Judge Sheila Carlisle issued the order during a status hearing ahead of the trial scheduled to begin Sept. 3.

Carlisle’s order cites Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 3.6(a) and 3.6(d)(1)-(5). The order bars lawyers from making “any judicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know, that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing a trial in this cause.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys also are ordered to exercise reasonable care to prevent potential witnesses, law enforcement, investigators or others involved in the case from making statements that attorneys otherwise would be prohibited from making.

Prosecutors said the trial could last three weeks. Carlisle estimated as many as 150 to 200 potential jurors may be called to fill out questionnaires and be considered for a jury she said would consist of 12 jurors and likely six alternates.•

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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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