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Justices keep pace with past years' activity

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In the final days before its fiscal calendar year ended, the Indiana Supreme Court kept pace with past years’ activity levels.

While the state’s five justices are not obligated to decide cases by any date and they don’t have an official end of term as the U.S. Supreme Court does before a summer recess, the Indiana Supreme Court operates on a fiscal calendar that runs July 1 to June 30 and it’s common for the justices to wrap up long-standing and high-profile matters before that fiscal calendar runs down.

A review of rulings in the past five years shows the justices handed down 24 rulings by the end of June, consistent with the number and types of decisions issued during the past four years – 26, 23, 25, and 29 going back to 2007. That number had been as high as 32 June opinions in 2006.

Regardless of the specific number in June, the month’s flurry of activity follows fewer opinions in May – anywhere from nine to 20 in recent years – and the typical handful in the remaining summer months.

As they typically do, the justices tackled a range of activity – from sex offender registration requirements, record access for private third-parties in litigation, unanimous jury verdicts in child molesting cases, and business transactions being considered leases. Others involved the legality of cheek swabs under the Fourth Amendment and the state of Indiana’s public intoxication law.

One of the trends that has surfaced in the past two years has been the bundling of cases at the end of a fiscal year. In June, the related cases involved attorney fees in adult wrongful death cases and the justices determined those fees and litigation expenses can be recovered under state statute. The main ruling on that issue was Jeffery H. McCabe v. Commissioner, Indiana Dept. of Insurance, No. 49S02-1010-CV-602, and two other cases accompanied it.

This year, the high court in its final week maintained a trend in addressing at least one case where it had to either uphold or strike down a state statute. That came in The Matter of A.B. v. State , No. 71S00-1002-JV-00156, and the justices upheld three state statutes involving juvenile placements by judges and the authority the Department of Child Services has in those decisions.

The statute-constitutionality questions in past years came with the Indiana voter ID statute being upheld in 2010, the Indiana Sex Offender Registry Act being struck down on ex post facto grounds in 2009, and sweeping decisions in previous years on sentencing and annexation cases.

The justices do not take a summer recess and do hold arguments and decide cases in July and August, though those numbers are typically lower than at other times of the year.

A full review of the recent rulings can be found online at Indiana Lawyer’s website.

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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