ILNews

Justices to hear 2 arguments

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday will consider two cases, delving into non-compete agreements, and the legal line between parental control and child battery.

Justices will first hear arguments at 9 a.m. in Central Indiana Podiatry P.C. v. Kenneth J. Krueger, Meridian Health Group P.C., 29S05-0706-CV-256, which the Court of Appeals ruled on in January. The appellate court overturned a decision by Hamilton Superior Judge Daniel Pfleging and ruled he should have made the podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth Krueger, stop working pending trial after his former company sued him in 2005 for violating a contract's restrictive covenants.

"Indiana courts have generally found covenants not to compete valid when they protect an employer's interest in the good will generated between a customer and a business, and/or the employer's interest in confidential information," Judge Carr Darden wrote in the unanimous Jan. 9 opinion.

A second case at 9:45 a.m. is Sophia Willis v. State of Indiana, 49S02-0707-CR-295. Justices granted transfer after the Court of Appeals in May affirmed the Marion Superior Court judgment finding sufficient evidence to convict Willis of misdemeanor child battery for spanking her 11-year-old son with what's described as either a belt or extension cord. A reason detailed at trial for the February 2006 incident was that her son took a bag of women's clothing to give to a classmate at school, though a fifth-grade teacher confiscated it and notified the mother. At home, Willis used an extension cord or belt to spank him seven times - to the point of causing bruises or pain. A few days later, he reported still being sore, asked his teacher if "being whipped with an extension cord was child abuse," and requested to see the school nurse who then notified child protective services.

Willis was charged with felony child battery and was convicted during a bench trial, though Commissioner Danielle Gaughan reduced her conviction to a Class A misdemeanor and sentenced her to 365 days in jail with 357 days suspended to probation. Willis appealed on grounds that insufficient evidence existed to support her conviction.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals panel - Chief Judge John Baker and Judges Ezra Friedlander and Terry Crone - noted that Indiana Code section 35-41-3-1 provides a parent has the right to employ reasonable corporal punishment to discipline a child, but there are limits to that right. Appellate judges echoed a past finding that there's "precious little Indiana caselaw providing guidance as to what constitutes proper and reasonable parental discipline of children, and there are no bright-line rules." That sentiment was mentioned in Mitchell v. State, 813 N.E.2d 427 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), which held that dropping a 4-year-old to the floor and kicking him was child battery.

Both arguments will be held in the Indiana Supreme Court's courtroom on the second floor of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. Arguments can be viewed live online at http://www.indianacourts.org/apps/webcasts.
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