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Indiana Supreme Court denies review of Kokomo case

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Within hours of hearing oral arguments, the Indiana Supreme Court decided not to grant transfer to review the case involving a Kokomo fire captain ;s demotion to firefighter because of comments made from outside the department. The appeals court had ruled the demotion did not constitute a violation of his First Amendment free-speech rights.

The court had not released a decision by early this afternoon, but the City of Kokomo had posted a press release saying the justices did not agree to accept transfer of in Kokomo v. Scott Kern, No. 34A04-0512-CV-726. Court officials confirmed transfer was denied.

The case stems from Kern ;s 2005 demotion, which was a result of his comments outside the department relating to a fireworks display in the neighborhood where he lived the year before. Fire Chief Dave Duncan denied an application for a fireworks display permit because it was considered incomplete, and Kern criticized the decision and made comments to the residents and local newspaper that it was politically motivated. The department denied those accusations and later demoted him for saying the comments brought the department into disrepute and undermined the administration.

The trial court found the demotion invalid because it violated Kern ;s free speech rights, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision in its Aug. 17, 2006.

During Supreme Court arguments, attorney Andrew Wirick, representing Kokomo, argued this case is a matter of the department ;s integrity while Kern ;s attorney John Kautzman said it comes down to free speech only being protected for complimentary speech, which discourages public employees from publicly speaking about matters of concern. Justices asked questions about fabricated statements, political affiliations, and variations of harm caused by comments.

"This is an important case not only for the City of Kokomo but also for every city in Indiana," Kokomo ;s corporate counsel Jon Mayes said in the news release. "The City is a firm believer in protecting the First Amendment rights of citizens, but the courts recognize that those being unjustly criticized also have rights."
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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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