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Justices take environmental, land rights appeals

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The Indiana Supreme Court accepted two civil cases last week on transfer, in addition to the two-high profile appeals involving legislative fines against lawmakers and Secretary of State Charlie White.

A transfer disposition list from the Indiana Appellate Clerk’s Office shows the justices denied 24 cases last week and accepted four. The justices granted transfer in Tim Berry, et al. v. William Crawford, et al., No. 49S02-1202-PL-76, involving the fines imposed against multiple state representatives who were part of a legislative walkout. The Supreme Court also took the consolidated case of Charlie White, et al. v. Indiana Democratic Party, No. 49S02-1202-MI-73, involving a Marion County judge’s decision finding the state’s top election official ineligible to hold office.

The other two cases the justices accepted were Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp., et al. v. Save the Valley, et al., No. 49S02-1202-MI-72, and Thomas R. Crowel v. Marshal County Drainage Board, No. 50S03-1202-MI-71.

In IKEC v. Save the Valley, the justices took a case that the Court of Appeals ruled on in August 2011 for the second time, after an initial ruling in 2005. The appellate panel found it had already ruled on an associational standing question, and as a result it denied the electric utility's attempt to relitigate that issue based on the law-of-the-case doctrine. The case involves environmental concerns about IKEC’s solid waste permit to operate a coal-fired electric generation station in Jefferson County.

In Crowel, the appellate court issued a 2-1 decision in August on a case about whether a man whose land sits higher and is not prone to flooding should have to pay for the reconstruction of an arm of a nearby drainage ditch. The trial court found the county drainage board’s decision that Crowel should contribute to the cost of the project was not arbitrary, capricious or unlawful, and it was supported by substantial evidence. Judges Paul Mathias and James Kirsch reversed based on a 1950 ruling from the state Supreme Court that found a surveyor must first consider that higher land matter and how it applies to natural drainage. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, finding that Crowel’s land would benefit by reconstructing the drain, and she wrote that the holding could lead to “water wars” between neighbors.

 

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