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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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