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Judges uphold sale of properties in tax sale

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a property owner’s motion for relief from judgment after his two parcels were sold in a Marion County tax sale. The man argued the notices sent by officials didn’t comply with statutory requirements and he was denied due process.

In Booker T. Prince, Jr. v. Marion County Auditor and Marion County Treasurer, 49A02-1210-MI-835, Booker Prince owned adjoining parcels of land in Indianapolis: An apartment building was located on one parcel and a parking lot on the other. He relocated to California and provided the Marion County auditor with a post office box in California for correspondence. He also had an office in the apartment building but did not give the auditor the unit or number.

After Prince failed to pay taxes, in 2010 the auditor sent the notice of the tax sale, the notice of the right of redemption, and the notice of petition for tax deed to the apartment building, to Prince’s California post office box via certified mail and to Prince’s California post office box via first class mail. All of the notices sent to the apartment building were returned to the auditor indicating that the property was vacant. However, Prince received the notice of tax sale that was sent to his post office box via certified mail. None of the notices that the auditor sent to Prince’s post office box via first class mail were returned to the auditor.

Prince filed his motion for relief from judgment after learning from his apartment manager that people arrived at the building claiming to be the new owners. The trial court found the auditor’s efforts to notify Prince of the sale, redemption period and issuance of the tax deed were constitutionally and statutorily sufficient.

The government officials conceded that the application for judgment filed with the court lacked the dates of mailing of the pre-sale notice and the dates of publication for the parcels at issue. But the Court of Appeals concluded the officials nonetheless provided Prince with notice of the sale. He signed for the certified copy of the notice and admits to owing back taxes.

“While it would have been better for the court to require the officials to provide all of the information set forth in Indiana Code section 6-1.1-24-4.6(b), there is sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s findings and conclusions that the application substantially complied with the statutory requirements,” Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote.

The appeals court also found the auditor substantially complied with the statutes governing notices and the manner of service the auditor chose was reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise Prince of the pendency of the action and allow him a chance to object.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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