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Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter summary being questioned

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A case summary printed in The Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter earlier this year is at issue in a Lake County courtroom, where a judge is considering whether the publisher should be held in contempt for writing about a school negligence case three months after the verdict.

The April edition of the monthly publication - published in Indiana since February 2000 - included an outline of a case involving the family of Neal Boyd IV, who had sued Gary Community Schools for not protecting their 16-year-old son from being fatally shot at school in 2001 by a then-17-year-old. In January a jury found against the school and awarded Boyd's parents nearly $4 million. The school corporation asked Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider to limit the award and appealed the jury verdict, which is pending.

Kentucky-based publisher Shannon Ragland wrote the front page article under the category of school negligence, reporting information he said was gleaned from public court files and motions included in the case - references to medical information and criminal history of the victim.

After the publication came out, the Boyds claimed the printed information was false and not allowed to be heard at trial, according to Ragland. The couple wants Ragland held in contempt, but he says all information printed came from public court documents.

"I'm not sure of any publisher who's been subject to indirect contempt matters for what they wrote about a civil jury trial after it was concluded," he said. "This was over, there was no issue of affecting the outcome of this case.

"More importantly, the issue here may be if (as a reporter) how limited you are to what you can report on?" he said. "They say I shouldn't have printed something excluded at trial but that was from a motion in limine. That doesn't apply to a newspaper - only to the case."

An indirect contempt hearing in Hammond Thursday gave jurisdiction of the issue to Superior Judge Gerald Svetanoff as a special judge, as required by statute. He is considering the contempt charge.
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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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