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Indiana legislative round-up

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The following is a snapshot of key points from bills heard in the 2012 legislative session. All enrolled acts were signed by the governor by March 20.

Civil rights

Senate Enrolled Act 1 specifies that a person may use reasonable force against any other person in certain circumstances. Provides that a person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to protect the person or a third person from unlawful force, to prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful entry into the person’s dwelling, or to prevent or terminate the public servant’s criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession. This legislation was spurred by the Indiana Supreme Court decision Barnes v. State of Indiana.

House Enrolled Act 1003 provides that a court may impose a civil penalty against an officer, management-level employee, or a public agency for violating the public records law if the officer, management-level employee, or agency continues to deny a request for a public record after the public access counselor has issued an advisory opinion that instructs the agency to allow access and denies the request with the specific intent to unlawfully withhold a public record that is subject to disclosure.

Courts and trial procedures

SEA 152 allows the judge of the Allen Circuit Court – beginning July 1, 2013 – to appoint a second full-time magistrate.

SEA 246 requires a prosecuting attorney who intends to introduce a laboratory report into evidence to file a notice of intent at least 20 days before the trial, and requires a defendant who wishes to cross-examine the laboratory technician who prepared the report to file a pretrial demand for cross-examination not later than 10 days after receiving the notice from the prosecutor.

HEA 1092 adds a fourth judge to the Johnson Superior Court as of January 1, 2015. Prohibits the auditor of state from paying the part of the total salary and benefits that would otherwise be paid by the state for the fourth judge of the Johnson Superior Court until the auditor of state receives a resolution of the board of county commissioners of Johnson County that sets forth the board’s determination that a building in existence on January 1, 2012, has been rehabilitated and is ready as a place for the new court to hold sessions. Provides that the Wabash City Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Wabash Circuit Court in civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $1,500.

Education

House Bill 1326 contained many provisions, including one which would have required the Department of Education, in collaboration with other agencies and organizations having expertise in criminal gang education, prevention, and intervention, to identify or develop model education materials and develop a model policy to address criminal gangs and criminal gang activity in schools. A Senate committee recommended an addition to this bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrant students who were already enrolled in a state university as of July 2011 to continue paying in-state tuition. Soon thereafter, the bill failed after making it through the House and second reading in the Senate.

Energy and environment

SEA 133 allows the solid waste management board to adopt rules and establish requirements for underground storage tanks in conformance with the delivery prohibition program under 42 U.S.C. 6991k. Allows the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to enforce the delivery prohibition program if an owner or operator of an underground petroleum storage tank fails to register the tank or pay annual registration fees, and requires the commissioner to provide notice before issuing such a temporary order.

Health

HEA 1269 authorizes Indiana’s participation in a Health Care Compact, whereby states could collectively seek permission from Congress to suspend all federal laws, regulations and orders concerning health care that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations adopted by the member state under the compact, to the extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the member state.

Juvenile justice and family law

SEA 19 lowers the age at which a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends – from age 21 to age 19 – with exceptions for higher education expenses. The bill brings Indiana’s law into alignment with support laws in most other states.

SEA 190 creates a study committee to determine whether parental rights should be terminated for rapists whose criminal act produces a child.

SEA 286 creates a Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee to examine how the DCS operates and responds to hotline calls. It also stipulates that a telephone call to the child abuse hotline is confidential and may be released only upon court order. An audio recording of a report of child abuse or neglect that is the subject of a complaint made to a prosecuting attorney under Indiana Code 31-33-22-3 shall be released without a court order to the prosecuting attorney upon written request of the prosecuting attorney.

Labor

Senate Bill 346 (FAILED) would have required the Worker’s Compensation Board, not later than January 1, 2013, to adopt rules to establish reimbursement rates for charges for medical services, treatment or supplies provided by a medical services facility to an employee for purposes of determining the pecuniary liability of an employer or an employer’s insurance carrier for a specific service, treatment or supply covered under worker’s compensation or occupational diseases compensation, and would have increased benefit amounts for injuries and disablements occurring on and after July 1, 2012.

HEA 1001 makes it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual to become or remain a member of a labor organization; to pay dues, fees, or other charges to a labor organization; or to pay to a charity or another third party an amount that represents dues, fees, or other charges required of members of a labor organization as a condition of employment or continuation of employment.

Probate

SEA 293 phases out the inheritance tax over nine years, beginning in 2013. It reclassifies transferees, and increases the inheritance tax exemption amount for Class A transferees from $100,000 to $250,000 with respect to taxable transfers resulting from the deaths of individuals dying after Dec. 31, 2011.

HEA 1258 makes several changes to probate law, including eliminating authority to file a recovery claim against the estate of the recipient’s spouse. It also authorizes foreign wills to be probated after the expiration of the probate deadlines for the same limited purposes for which Indiana wills may be probated after the deadlines. It provides that costs of administration include the fee of a surrogate attorney to determine the priority of claims when an estate’s resources are insufficient to pay all claims.

Pro bono

SEA 235 stalled in committee, but Sen. Brent Steele was able to amend HEA1049 to include language originally contained in the bill. As of July 1, 2012 – and until July 1, 2017 – a fee of $1 assessed on any civil filing will benefit the Indiana Bar Foundation in order to supplement dwindling interest on lawyer trust accounts that fund the state’s pro bono districts.

Sentencing and criminal code

SEA 4, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Jan. 30, went into effect before the Super Bowl, for the purpose of preventing human trafficking. The revision to Indiana code provides that recruiting, harboring or transporting another person to participate in sexual conduct by force, threat of force, or fraud constitutes human trafficking. It also provides that a person who recruits, harbors or transports a child less than 16 years of age with the intent of engaging the child in forced labor, involuntary servitude, prostitution or sexual conduct commits promotion of human trafficking of a minor, a Class B felony.

HEA 1033 allows a court to convert a Class D felony conviction to Class A misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the offense and the offender’s criminal history.

House Bill 1036 (FAILED) proposed making intimidation a Class C felony instead of a Class D felony if the person to whom a threat is communicated is a judge or bailiff of any court. It also would have made intimidation a Class C felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor if the person to whom a threat is communicated is a prosecuting attorney or deputy prosecuting attorney.

Tort law

SEA 273 allows the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission to adopt rules to regulate outdoor stage equipment used in connection with an outdoor performance as a Class 1 structure. It also creates an interim committee to study the regulation of outdoor stage equipment and recommend permanent legislation.

House Bill 1234  (FAILED)  proposed increasing the liability cap in the tort claims act to $1.3 million per person and $22 million per occurrence for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2011.•

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  1. Actually, and most strikingly, the ruling failed to address the central issue to the whole case: Namely, Black Knight/LPS, who was NEVER a party to the State court litigation, and who is under a 2013 consent judgment in Indiana (where it has stipulated to the forgery of loan documents, the ones specifically at issue in my case)never disclosed itself in State court or remediated the forged loan documents as was REQUIRED of them by the CJ. In essence, what the court is willfully ignoring, is that it is setting a precedent that the supplier of a defective product, one whom is under a consent judgment stipulating to such, and under obligation to remediate said defective product, can: 1.) Ignore the CJ 2.) Allow counsel to commit fraud on the state court 3.) Then try to hide behind Rooker Feldman doctrine as a bar to being held culpable in federal court. The problem here is the court is in direct conflict with its own ruling(s) in Johnson v. Pushpin Holdings & Iqbal- 780 F.3d 728, at 730 “What Johnson adds - what the defendants in this suit have failed to appreciate—is that federal courts retain jurisdiction to award damages for fraud that imposes extrajudicial injury. The Supreme Court drew that very line in Exxon Mobil ... Iqbal alleges that the defendants conducted a racketeering enterprise that predates the state court’s judgments ...but Exxon Mobil shows that the Rooker Feldman doctrine asks what injury the plaintiff asks the federal court to redress, not whether the injury is “intertwined” with something else …Because Iqbal seeks damages for activity that (he alleges) predates the state litigation and caused injury independently of it, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not block this suit. It must be reinstated.” So, as I already noted to others, I now have the chance to bring my case to SCOTUS; the ruling by Wood & Posner is flawed on numerous levels,BUT most troubling is the fact that the authors KNOW it's a flawed ruling and choose to ignore the flaws for one simple reason: The courts have decided to agree with former AG Eric Holder that national banks "Are too big to fail" and must win at any cost-even that of due process, case precedent, & the truth....Let's see if SCOTUS wants a bite at the apple.

  2. I am in NJ & just found out that there is a judgment against me in an action by Driver's Solutions LLC in IN. I was never served with any Court pleadings, etc. and the only thing that I can find out is that they were using an old Staten Island NY address for me. I have been in NJ for over 20 years and cannot get any response from Drivers Solutions in IN. They have a different lawyer now. I need to get this vacated or stopped - it is now almost double & at 18%. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. I am in NJ & just found out that there is a judgment against me in an action by Driver's Solutions LLC in IN. I was never served with any Court pleadings, etc. and the only thing that I can find out is that they were using an old Staten Island NY address for me. I have been in NJ for over 20 years and cannot get any response from Drivers Solutions in IN. They have a different lawyer now. I need to get this vacated or stopped - it is now almost double & at 18%. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  4. Please I need help with my class action lawsuits, im currently in pro-se and im having hard time findiNG A LAWYER TO ASSIST ME

  5. Access to the court (judiciary branch of government) is the REAL problem, NOT necessarily lack of access to an attorney. Unfortunately, I've lived in a legal and financial hell for the past six years due to a divorce (where I was, supposedly, represented by an attorney) in which I was defrauded of settlement and the other party (and helpers) enriched through the fraud. When I attempted to introduce evidence and testify (pro se) in a foreclosure/eviction, I was silenced (apparently on procedural grounds, as research I've done since indicates). I was thrown out of a residence which was to be sold, by a judge who refused to allow me to speak in (the supposedly "informal") small claims court where the eviction proceeding (by ex-brother-in-law) was held. Six years and I can't even get back on solid or stable ground ... having bank account seized twice, unlawfully ... and now, for the past year, being dragged into court - again, contrary to law and appellate decisions - by former attorney, who is trying to force payment from exempt funds. Friday will mark fifth appearance. Hopefully, I'll be allowed to speak. The situation I find myself in shouldn't even be possible, much less dragging out with no end in sight, for years. I've done nothing wrong, but am watching a lot of wrong being accomplished under court jurisdiction; only because I was married to someone who wanted and was granted a divorce (but was not willing to assume the responsibilities that come with granting the divorce). In fact, the recalcitrant party was enriched by well over $100k, although it was necessarily split with other actors. Pro bono help? It's a nice dream ... but that's all it is, for too many. Meanwhile, injustice marches on.

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