Judges define 'courthouse' for first time

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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals had to decide if a courthouse means a particular building or may be any place that houses the trial courts. Their decision would impact a woman whose home was sold in a sheriff’s sale.

Claudette Gee’s home was ordered into a foreclosure sale in August 2009. During that time, three of Grant County’s four courts were relocated to temporary offices and a temporary courtroom because of repairs at the Grant County courthouse. The Grant County Sheriff’s department posted notice of the sheriff sales on a bulletin board located next to the door of the temporary courtroom. Notice of the sale involving Gee’s home wasn’t posted at the permanent courthouse.

Gee tried to get the sale set aside because she argued the sheriff’s office didn’t post notice of the sale “at the door of the courthouse” pursuant to Indiana Code Section 32-29-7-3(e). The trial court denied her motion to set aside and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

In Claudette Gee v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, No. 27A02-1003-MF-304, the judges, noting that “courthouse” isn’t defined in the statute in question, relied on the Black’s Law Dictionary definition to determine that a courthouse is the building where judges convene to adjudicate disputes and administer justice. Thus, the statute applies to the temporary location.

“Significantly, however, Gee does not argue that the sheriff was required to post notice at both the Complex and the permanent courthouse,” wrote Judge Edward Najam. “We therefore do not consider whether Section 32-29-7-3(e) requires the sheriff to post notice at all functioning courthouses or just at one courthouse.”


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