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Justices hear 3 cases, including robo-calls appeal

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The Indiana Supreme Court heard three arguments this morning, including one case that it had granted emergency transfer to regarding whether the state should be constitutionally allowed to restrict robo-calls to residents.

With Justice Frank Sullivan not participating, the four justices heard arguments first in State of Indiana v. FreeEats.com, No. 07S00-1008-MI-411, that the court had granted on emergency transfer from the Brown Circuit Court. The case involves the attempted enforcement of the Indiana AutoDialer Law, or Indiana Code 24-5-14, by the state. The trial judge granted and denied in part a preliminary injunction request from FreeEats.com and the state appealed, presenting this case for the justices’ consideration.

The case raises a constitutional question under the Indiana Constitution, and attorney Paul Jefferson with Barnes & Thornburg argued that this restriction creates an economic burden for the company using this interactive artificial technology and violates the state Constitution. He’s not asking the court to strike down the full statute, but rather allow for this technology to be used in place of a live operator as the legislative language currently states.

Terre Haute attorney James Bopp split the time with Jefferson, taking up the First Amendment concerns he sees with the case. Bopp was quickly questioned by the justices about whether his argument was relevant to the appeal at hand. As soon as Bopp began citing his landmark victory before the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), which dealt with whether companies should be able to donate money to political campaigns, Justice Brent Dickson wondered whether his argument had standing in this state appeal.

The trial court didn’t rule on that First Amendment issue, the court and Bopp agreed, and so the state justices questioned whether this preliminary injunction matter – rather than a summary judgment issue - allows for other legal theories and issues to be raised. Bopp said it did and discussed why he believes the state is prohibited from restricting this protected type of speech within someone’s home.

But Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher argued that this robo-calls restriction doesn’t target protected political speech and isn’t about campaign-finance laws as Citizens United and other free speech cases were. Instead it focuses on all types of calls that seek consent without a live operator and that’s a consumer-protection issue that the statute aims to protect homeowners against.

The same four justices also heard the case of City of Greenwood v. Town of Bargersville, No. 41S05-1012-CV-666, in which Greenwood is challenging the town's annexation of land within three miles of the city's corporate boundary. The Johnson Superior Court granted summary judgment in Bargersville’s favor. The Indiana Court of Appeals last year reversed on the grounds that the town didn’t obtain the consent of 51 percent of the landowners for annexation purposes, but rather as part of a separate sewer service agreement. What the Supreme Court rules will not only decide whether that part of Bargersville becomes a part of Greenwood, but also what is required for “consent” by other communities trying to annex land.

The third case the court heard today is a combined argument in Jeffery McCabe v. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Insurance / Hematology-Oncology of Indiana, P.C., v. Hadley Fruits, No. 49S02-1010-CV-602, on whether attorney fees and litigation expenses are recoverable damages under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. Justice Sullivan heard arguments and was participating in that appeal.
 

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  • Supreme ruling
    In regards to the Greenwood v Bargersville debate who represents the citizens that do not want to be annexed or merged. It is too bad the court cannot consider how towns and cities should not gobble up land just to steal money oh i am sorry generate revenue.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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