Courts

Counties, courts recover from flooding

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner rushed to his downtown Franklin office on Saturday to save computers and files from floodwater.At first, water was about an inch high. Within an hour, the floodwater had creeped higher - he was being shocked while trying to salvage computers. The water suddenly reached 4 feet, making the prosecutor's office look more like an aquarium than an office. Rushing floodwater rose even higher, crushing doors shut, trapping him inside so that he couldn't even escape through...
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National Crime Victims' Rights Week events

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
To observe National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which kicked off April 13 and lasts through April 19, many communities in Indiana have organized events to recognize crime victims, survivors, and the service providers who come to their aid.Some events around the state include:Victim Assistance Candlelight Vigil, 5:30 p.m. today at the Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne. The event is sponsored by Fort Wayne Police Department Victim Assistance. Understanding & Investing in Children Trapped in Domestic Violence, 8...
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Restitution can't include security system costs

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State statute doesn't allow trial courts to order restitution to pay for installation of a security system in victims' homes, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.Ruling on Keith Elton Rich v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0712-CR-687, the appellate court reversed Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Thomas Busch's restitution order issued in October 2007. Rich had pleaded guilty to burglary and marijuana possession and received a 14-year sentence that was partially suspended to probation. As a condition of probation, he also was ordered to...
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Kazakhstan group visits Marion County courts

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A group of about two dozen public administrators from Kazakhstan are in Indianapolis today learning about the state and local courts systems. The group visited the Marion County courts this afternoon.Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of Marion Superior Court welcomed them and gave an introduction about Marion County courts. She discussed the election process and the day-to-day work of a judge. After learning about our judicial system, the group toured several courtrooms and watched a jury trial, said Marion County Court Administrator Glenn...
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Court: evidence doesn't support sentence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court threw out a life-without-parole sentence for felony murder because there wasn't proof the killing was "intentional," as state law requires for that penalty.In Hobert Alan Pittman v. State of Indiana, No. 31S00-0610-CR-355, Hobert Alan Pittman appealed his convictions and sentence of two consecutive life sentences for murdering his father and stepgrandmother, as well as a 73-year sentence for convictions of attempted murder, theft, auto theft, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Pittman's stepmother, Linda, and stepgrandmother, Myrtle, were returning...
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Judges: Evidence proves scienter in fraud case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld fines against two men convicted of defrauding investors, finding a reasonable jury would have found them guilty of scienter even though the defendants didn't take the stand. In Thursday's ruling in United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Melvin R. Lyttle and Paul E. Knight, Nos. 07-2466, 07-2467, Melvin Lyttle and Paul Knight appealed the $110,000 fines each got following a grant of summary judgment in favor of the SEC on a variety of...
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Justices affirm sentence in child torture case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court today affirmed a trial court's sentence of life without parole for a Lafayette mother who had pleaded guilty to torturing and killing her stepdaughter.In Michelle Gauvin v. State of Indiana, No. 79S00-0702-CR-65, the state's highest court ruled 4-1 in a direct appeal that Tippecanoe Superior Judge Thomas Busch correctly sentenced the Lafayette mother for murder, confinement, and neglect of her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Aiyana. The girl died from head trauma in March 2005 after months...
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Hammond to host appeals court arguments

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels to Hammond April 7 to hear arguments in a case involving a dispute after the sale of real estate. Arguments begin at 10 a.m. CST in the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division No. 1 Courtroom, 232 Russell St., Hammond. In the case, Gladys E. Tobias v. Margaret and Thomas Mannella, No. 45A03-0708-CV-373, on appeal from Lake Superior Court, Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Margret Robb are asked to decide whether the trial court erred...
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Applicants sought for $90,000 in grant funds

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The Heartland Pro Bono Council, which serves Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby counties in central Indiana, received a cy pres award of more than $65,000 late last year and the organization is looking to distribute the money in the upcoming months. That amount, along with other funds the HPBC has received in cy pres monies in recent years - totaling $90,000 - will be given in one grant or multiple grants sometime after June 5, 2008.Heartland is...
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Court rules on environmental cleanup case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the statute of limitations on a claim for contribution toward cleanup costs doesn't begin until the owner is ordered to clean up the property, regardless of whether the owner should have known about the contamination earlier. The issue in Richard U. Pflanz and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, individually, Merrill Foster d/b/a/ Friendly Foster's Service, and Sunoco Inc. (R&M),  No. 36S01-0710-CV-425, is when the 10-year statute of limitations began on a claim for...
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Suspended attorney gets 3 more months

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis attorney is getting one last warning from the Indiana Supreme Court before being suspended indefinitely from practicing law.Attorney Wilburn G. Lowry of Marion County received an additional 90 days on his suspension handed down nearly a year ago, with the court specifically noting in its Jan. 11, 2008, order that "any future suspension for failure to meet CLE or dues requirements shall result in an indefinite suspension."In the order In the Matter of Contempt of the Supreme Court of...
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Test run for SCOTUS arguments

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana case goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the final week of March to determine whether a man who's been found competent to stand trial is competent to represent himself in those court proceedings.Before that happens, though, the defense team representing the Indianapolis man is at the University of Illinois College of Law in Chicago getting a test run today in a mock argument of Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, which will go before the nation's highest court...
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Magistrate up for nomination vote

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday morning on whether a federal magistrate in Indianapolis should be elevated to district judge for the Southern District of Indiana.A nomination vote for Magistrate William Lawrence is on the committee's agenda for the 10 a.m. meeting. The Indianapolis magistrate, who's been on the bench since 2002, went before the Senate committee in early May for his confirmation hearing. The president had selected him in February for the seat.If affirmed by the...
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Settlement may be largest of its kind: State agency resolves federal lawsuit that began with legal malpractice claim

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis law firm has been holding its breath for two years. Ever since getting hit with a potentially devastating $17.9 million jury verdict on a legal malpractice claim in state court, the 45-year-old law firm Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe hasn't been able to put the focus on its daily client business without acknowledging that dark storm cloud hovering overhead. Now, the storm cloud has dissolved. In what may be the state's largest-ever liquidation return of its kind, the Indiana...
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Indiana has voice in Second Amendment case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time in 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court is testing the scope of the Second Amendment and could decide what "the right to keep and bear arms" means for the 21st century.Justices will consider the question Tuesday morning in District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290, which involves a citizen's challenge to a Washington, D.C., law banning him from keeping a handgun in his home.At issue is to what extent the gun rights amendment to the Constitution applies to...
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Judicial nominees submitted to governor

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nomination Commission submitted five names today to Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill an upcoming vacancy after St. Joseph Superior Judge William T. Means retires Sept. 30.
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Federal magistrate faces Senate committee

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal magistrate nominated to become a Southern District of Indiana judge went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon.Magistrate William Lawrence from Indianapolis faced committee members in Washington, D.C., to discuss why he should be promoted within the federal court's ranks. President George W. Bush selected him in February to succeed Judge John D. Tinder, whom the Senate confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Magistrate Lawrence was appointed in November 2002 but had worked at...
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Justices split on rental restriction case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
In a ruling that could be the first of its kind in the nation, a divided Indiana Supreme Court Thursday afternoon reversed a lower court's ruling that a Kokomo subdivision's covenant restricting rentals violated the federal Fair Housing Act because of potential racial implications.The state's highest court has been quiet on the issue since hearing arguments in October 2006, but it simultaneously decided to grant transfer and issue an opinion in the case of Villas West II of Willowridge v. Edna...
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SCOTUS hears pro se competency case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments this morning in its third Indiana case in the past six months, pondering whether defendants found competent to stand trial maintain a right to represent themselves.In its first case of the morning at 10 a.m., justices took on Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, delving into what the Sixth Amendment dictates regarding competency standards for pro se litigants. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher argued for the state and shared his time...
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COA travels to Muncie, Oakland City

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals will make stops this week in Muncie and Oakland City to hear arguments in a public intoxication appeal and a negligence suit.On Tuesday, the appellate court visits Pruis Hall at Ball State University to hear arguments in Melissa Christian v. State, 49A02-0803-CR-272, in which Melissa Christian is appealing her Class B misdemeanor public intoxication conviction. She argues that because she was found by police in a parking area adjacent to a private residence, there is insufficient...
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Court affirms probation revocation

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the revocation of a man's probation and imposition of a 12-year sentence for his probation violation even though the trial court erred in not allowing him to explain why he missed his mandatory drug screenings. In Brian Woods v. State of Indiana, No.49S04-0808-CR-469, the court examined the concept and implications of a "strict compliance" probation, which Woods was on after previously failing to make mandatory drug screenings. The trial court warned him that if he violated his...
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Justices: Arrest was valid

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has reversed a Marion County judge's ruling that officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department don't have arresting authority because they didn't take an official oath following a merger.A unanimous ruling came today in State v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, 49S00-0710-CR-396, which stems from Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill's decision involving a three-car accident and subsequent drunk driving arrest a year ago. He ruled that Oddi-Smith's arrest was illegal because the arresting officer was not sworn in after the Jan....
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Justices rule on 'workplace bullying' case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The phrase "workplace bully" was applicable to a plaintiff's claims of assault and is an entirely appropriate consideration in determining issues before a jury, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court April 8. However, the court did not define in the opinion what makes a "workplace bully." The majority of Indiana Supreme Court justices affirmed the trial court jury verdict of $325,000 and judgment on a claim for assault against a surgeon.In Daniel H. Raess, M.D., v. Joseph E. Doescher, No. 49S02-0710-CV-424, Dr. Raess...
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Circuit examines ministerial exception

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Two former administrators of Salvation Army thrift stores in Indianapolis are appealing their lawsuit against the non-profit organization on grounds that they were wrongly denied overtime pay in violation of a federal labor law.But at issue in their federal case is whether they're classified as "employees" and whether a religious freedom exception barring courts from getting involved in church management can be applied to their employment law claims.The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in Steve and Lorrie Schleicher...
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Attorney killed in car accident

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Merrillville defense attorney Garry Weiss, 53, was killed Tuesday night in a car crash in northern Indiana. Police responded to the three-car crash around 10 p.m. Tuesday in Merrillville. The preliminary investigation shows a Jeep Grand Cherokee ran a stop sign and struck two cars, one of which Weiss was driving. The driver of the Grand Cherokee and the two people inside the Chevy Blazer were also killed. Police believe speed was a contributing factor in the crash. Weiss had his...
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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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