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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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