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Justices accept 2 appeals and deny 24 cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted two cases, one involving a tax revenue assessment dispute and a second asking how trial judges decide on restraining defendants who disrupt courtroom proceedings.

A transfer list shows the justices considered a total of 26 transfer petitions and granted transfer in two cases – Rent-A-Center East, Inc. v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, No. 49S10-1112-TA-683, and Kenneth Dwayne Vaughn v. State of Indiana, No. 49S05-112-CR-684.

In Rent-A-Center, the Court of Appeals in May denied the revenue department’s motion for summary judgment and granted one in favor of RAC East. The department failed to designate any facts to show it complied with Indiana Code 6-3-2-2(p), so it hadn’t made a prima facie case that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law regarding whether the department should consider alternatives to assessing tax based on a combined return. The appellate panel remanded the case to the revenue department, but now the state justices will consider the appeal.

In Vaughn, the intermediate appellate court reversed a Lake County trial judge’s refusal to grant a mistrial for a defendant who claimed the court went too far in physically restraining and preventing him from speaking at his trial. The court used caselaw from the 1980s when making its 2-1 decision concerning how far courts can go in restraining defendants who disturb the court proceedings. In this case, the majority found Lake Superior Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. went too far and overreacted in allowing the bailiff to put his hand over Vaughn’s mouth and handcuff him. Judge Ezra Friedlander had dissented, finding the trial judge’s actions were appropriate given the circumstances.

The justices denied 24 petitions in other cases, including In the Matter of the Trust of Harrison Eiteljorg, No. 49A02-1005-TR-495, which involved the two sons of the late Harrison Eiteljorg, founder of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in downtown Indianapolis. The appellate court found the brothers breached their duties as trustees on an estate matter, and the ruling issued guidance concerning how long a trustee should wait before turning to a probate court for guidance on distributing money to beneficiaries who dispute the monetary amounts they might receive.

 

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