ILNews

Justices to consider certified question on municipal reorganization

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted a certified question from a federal judge in Indianapolis that asks whether a township can reorganize into a city in a way that deprives some residents of their statutory rights to vote for mayor and city council.

An order from the Supreme Court Tuesday accepts the certified question from U.S. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District of Indiana, where the federal lawsuit of Michael R. Kole, et. al. v. Scott Faultless, et. al., No. 1:10-cv-01735 is pending.

Filed in December 2010, the federal suit involves the Town of Fishers, which in May 2010 began the process to reorganize by combining with Fall Creek Township and became a second-class city. Indiana Code 36-4-1.5 allows for that reorganization by asking residents to vote on the change, and in this situation more than 1,700 residents signed a petition, including the three plaintiffs who are registered voters in Fishers and live in Fall Creek Township.

But the suit alleges that council members didn’t follow the statutory requirements. The suit says the reorganization would establish a city council-appointed mayor rather than a voter-elected one, make it so all council members are elected “at large” instead of some representing specific areas, and keep existing town council members in office as new city council members until the next municipal election in 2015 rather than setting a municipal election in 2011 for voters to choose the new mayor.

The suit comprises 20 counts alleging that the defendants violated state law and the Indiana Constitution, and it requests declaratory judgments against the town and council members.

Earlier this year, Pratt declined to dismiss the federal claims as defendants requested and issued a stay until the federal court could decide on certifying a question to the state courts. U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch issued a report in November that granted the certification request, writing that Indiana courts haven’t yet addressed these pivotal state law issues affecting the structure of Hoosier municipalities and voting rights of Indiana residents.

Pratt adopted her magistrate’s report on Dec. 6 and asked the Supreme Court to consider the question, and earlier this week the court agreed to accept the rephrased question: “May a political unit reorganize into a city under Indiana Code article 36-1.5 (the “Reorganization Act”) in a manner that eliminates voting rights recognized under Indiana Code sections 36-4-5-2 and 36-4-6-3(i), including reorganization as a city with (1) a council elected entirely at large, and (2) a mayor appointed by that council?”

The justices have ordered simultaneous briefing so that both the plaintiffs and defendants can file a single principle brief with appendix by Jan. 20, 2012. The court will issue an order setting oral arguments once briefing is complete.

 While the justices consider this question, the federal suit remains on hold.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Clarification
    The article confuses one important point. A petition to change Fishers into a City with an elected Mayor was submitted PRIOR to the township merger process being started. The township merger process, backed by the incumbent Fishers Town Council, would eliminate the right of residents to vote for a Mayor, and would keep the present "town" form of government, and call it a City. The current Town Council is attempting to subvert the original petition, submitted by a committee which I chaired at the time.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Put aside all the marijuana concerns, we are talking about food and fiber uses here. The federal impediments to hemp cultivation are totally ridiculous. Preposterous. Biggest hemp cultivators are China and Europe. We get most of ours from Canada. Hemp is as versatile as any crop ever including corn and soy. It's good the governor laid the way for this, regrettable the buffoons in DC stand in the way. A statutory relic of the failed "war on drugs"

  2. Cannabis is GOOD for our PEOPLE and GOOD for our STATE... 78% would like to see legal access to the product line for better Hoosier Heath. There is a 25% drop in PAIN KILLER Overdoses in states where CANNABIS is legal.

  3. This article is excellent and should be required reading for all attorneys and would-be attorneys, regardless of age or experience. I've caught myself committing several of the errors mentioned.

  4. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  5. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

ADVERTISEMENT