Courts

Justices: 'Three Strikes Law' unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A four-year-old state statute aimed at limiting frivolous lawsuits filed by prison inmates is unconstitutional because it effectively closes the courthouse doors altogether for certain people, a split Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.Three of the five justices - Justices Theodore Boehm, Robert Rucker, and Brent Dickson - agreed that the state's 2004 "Three Strikes Law" violates the Indiana Constitution's Open Courts Clause. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan disagreed and observed their colleagues' decision means many Hoosier litigants...
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AG won't appeal sex-offender law ruling

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Office of Indiana Attorney General won't appeal a federal court's decision last month that ruled a law requiring sex offenders to allow for blanket consent of computer and home searches is unconstitutional. Instead of appealing, Attorney General Steve Carter said in a press release Thursday that the office will work with legislators this fall to create a law that will protect children from Internet predators but would not violate the Constitution. Carter also cited the cost to taxpayers as a...
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Judges: Dispute can be arbitrated

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A union and the owner of the facility the union wants to organize can proceed to arbitration to decide whether the facility is a covered workplace under an agreement requiring neutrality, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. In United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union v. TriMas Corporation, No. 07-1688, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) brought an action in federal...
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President chooses magistrate for judgeship

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
President George W. Bush has nominated an Indianapolis federal magistrate to replace Judge John D. Tinder who recently took a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.The president on Thursday sent a nomination to the Senate for Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence, who's been on the federal bench since November 2002. Magistrate Judge Lawrence was one of seven nominations sent, including nominations for the U.S. Tax Court. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar recommended the Indianapolis magistrate for the position."I have known...
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Court upholds damages award against doctor

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a damages award to the parents of a stillborn child against a doctor, finding the trial court properly excluded opinion testimony from two treating doctors and a letter written to those doctors before the trial by the parents' attorney. In Jeffrey L. Cain, M.D. v. Richard Back and Suzette Back, No. 20A03-0705-CV-225, Dr. Jeffrey L. Cain appealed the trial court judgment of $800,000 in damages to Richard and Suzette Back on their claim of medical malpractice.The...
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Application of residency law unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
  The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's ruling that in at least one case of the state's application of a law prohibiting violent and child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or public area where children congregate is unconstitutional.The ruling came in State of Indiana v. Anthony W. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640. Judges heard arguments in the case March 31. The state argued that Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 was not considered ex post facto...
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Indiana's e-ticket system nationally recognized

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court's e-ticket system has won an honorable mention in the 2008 Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards given by the Center for Digital Government. The court's electronic Citation and Warning System (eCWS) was honored in the Government-to-Government category. Winners were recognized for the strides they have made to implement better access and more efficient Web delivery of public services.The e-ticketing program allows law enforcement to use hand-held devices to scan a bar code on driver's...
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COA arguments set for IU student's killer

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments Thursday in the case of the man convicted of killing an Indiana University student. John R. Myers II appeals his conviction of the murder of Jill Behrman, claiming the trial court committed several errors including denying his motion for a change of venue, denying his motions in limine to exclude testimony of certain witnesses, admitting an interrogation tape without proper admonition to the jury, and denying his motion for a mistrial due to...
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Plea can't be challenged with new evidence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In a case of first impression, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled a guilty plea can't be challenged in post-conviction proceedings by a claim of newly discovered evidence regarding the events making up the crime. In Shawn E. Norris v. State of Indiana, No. 43S03-0807-CR-379, Shawn Norris appealed the post-conviction court's grant of the state's motion for summary disposition on Norris' petition for post-conviction relief. Norris pleaded guilty four years earlier to molesting his sister's child, served his sentence, and then later...
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Former Marion Superior judge dies

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A former Marion Superior Court judge and longtime executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council died April 5 at his home after a long illness.Hon. Richard P. Good Jr., 76, was appointed by Gov. Frank O'Bannon in 1997 to Marion Superior Court, where he served in the Criminal Division. During his time on the bench, he was chosen by his peers to serve on the executive committee. After leaving the bench in 2002, he took on temporary assignments as presiding...
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Justices: Indiana OK to dismiss jurisdiction

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In an Indiana custody case that started before a married couple's only child was born, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that either Indiana or the state where the child was born could have jurisdiction over proceedings. The Indiana trial court dismissed proceedings in favor of Washington State, where the child was born, as a more convenient forum, clearing the way for that state to take over jurisdiction. The issue in Anthony N. Stewart v. Signe L. (Stewart) Vulliet, No. 12S02-0708-CV-331, is whether...
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Suit against Vanderburgh County dismissed

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge in Indianapolis has dismissed a suit against Vanderburgh County that claimed county officials were responsible for a 2005 triple murder-suicide by an inmate on work release.On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a 13-page order dismissing the federal complaint Christine Sandage, et al. v. Board of Commissioners of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, et al. The suit stems from the deaths of Sheena Sandage-Shofner, Alfonzo Small, and Tara Jenkins, who were fatally shot almost three years ago by...
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High court grants, vacates transfers

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to a case regarding whether the Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund can introduce evidence of liability on an action seeking excess damages. The court also vacated a transfer in a case that involves an amendment to charging information that happened after the omnibus date. The court granted transfer to Jim Atterholt, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, as Administrator of theIndiana Patient's Compensation Fund v. Geneva Herbst, personal representative of the estate of Jeffrey A....
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High court to hear 3 arguments Thursday

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in three cases involving different issues - the cleanup of hazardous material, a defendant sentenced to death, and a child-custody dispute. In the arguments scheduled at 9 a.m., the justices will hear The Indiana Department of Environmental Management v. Raybestos Products Co., No. 49A02-0609-CV-782, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Marion Superior Court decision granting summary judgment for Raybestos on the issue of breach of contract against IDEM. Raybestos filed a...
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Court affirms dismissal of default judgment

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court finding that a mother had a valid excuse for not showing up to a child-support modification hearing because neither she nor her attorney received proper notice of the hearing. In Jason D. Bunch v. Katherine R. Himm, 64A04-0705-CV-262, Bunch and Himm divorced, leaving Bunch with physical custody of their two children. Himm moved from northern Indiana to South Carolina and joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves. Their divorce decree was finalized...
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Attorney, ex-appellate clerk dies suddenly

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A Fort Wayne and Indianapolis health-care law attorney who'd previously served as the governor's counsel and as state appellate clerk in the 1990s died suddenly Tuesday night.John Okeson, 43, died at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne after suffering from a short flu-like illness during the past week; he was admitted to the hospital late Sunday or Monday, according to his legal colleagues. The county coroner's office told media that Okeson had been sick and admitted to the hospital, where staff determined...
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Court: Attorney mistake 'inexcusable neglect'

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a woman's appeal following the denial of Social Security benefits because the woman's attorney failed to file the appeal in time under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.In Janet L. McCarty v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, No. 07-2104, Janet McCarty's application for disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income was denied by the Social Security Administration and an administrative law judge.She appealed to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of...
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State can't cross-appeal sentence under rule

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The state may not cross-appeal a sentence for an abuse of discretion or inappropriateness unless the defendant appeals his or her sentence in the appellant's brief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The issue of the state filing a cross-appeal of a sentence is a matter of first impression. In Steven McCullough v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0711-CR-931, Steven McCullough filed an appeal of his convictions of two counts of criminal confinement, battery, and the finding he was a habitual offender....
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Court: Nontestimonial statements allowed at trial

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Statements to police made by a woman who accused a defendant of hitting her should have been admissible during the defendant's trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled April 25.The appellate court determined statements made by Keyona Brooks, in which she said defendant Tracey Lamont Martin struck her in the face while they were fighting in the car before he drove off with her children, should have been considered nontestimonial, and thus admissible at trial.Brooks was not available to testify at Martin's trial...
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Court rules on 'nude in front yard' case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Though the front yard of your home may not be considered a "public place," state law prohibits you from standing there naked because that nudity would be visible from a public street or sidewalk, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.In Chad A. Weideman v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-0801-CR-51, a unanimous three-judge panel determined that Indiana's public nudity statute, Indiana Code Section 35-45-4-1.5(c), is not unconstitutionally vague, but the state failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that a Warrick County...
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SCOTUS quiet on money-laundering case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The nation's highest court hasn't yet ruled on an East Chicago case involving money laundering, but that could be because justices are waiting to hear a similar case before making a decision.Indianapolis attorney Todd Vare with Barnes & Thornburg argued before the Supreme Court of the United States Oct. 3, but so far the court hasn't issued a decision on U.S. v. Efrain Santos, No. 06-1005.Ten of the 14 cases argued that month have been ruled on, as well as other...
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UPDATE: SCOTUS limits pro se rights

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that a state may require a criminal defendant who suffers from a mental illness to have a lawyer rather than allowing that person to act as his or her own defense counsel, even when the individual is competent to be tried.Vacating an Indiana Supreme Court ruling from more than a year ago, the nation's highest court today issued its 7-2 ruling in Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208. Justices remanded the case to Marion Superior Court...
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Deputy Allen County prosecutor dies

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A deputy Allen County prosecutor died suddenly March 16 after a short illness. John William Archer was 58. Archer, a lifelong Hoosier, was born in Hartford City and earned his bachelor's degree at Wabash College. He earned his J.D. at Valparaiso University School of Law. He spent 20 years in the Allen County Prosecutor's Office and served as section head of the misdemeanor court. Prior to that, he owned Ruby Red Hot Records, a reflection of his love of music. He is survived...
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Tax fraud lands attorney in prison

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
An Indianapolis personal injury lawyer will spend time in prison for committing tax fraud by underreporting his income.U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney of the Southern District's Indianapolis Division sentenced Robert E. Lehman to eight months in prison and six months of home detention after he pleaded guilty to making a false federal income tax return.Lehman filed false personal income tax returns with the IRS in 2002, 2003, and 2004, by understating his business income. When he paid his clients from...
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Update: Confirmation doesn't stop court business

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Business is going on as usual this morning for the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, despite a historic moment that's happened in the court.The U.S. Senate voted unanimously about 5 p.m. Thursday to confirm Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence as a federal judge, meaning he'll be the Southern District's first-ever magistrate to be elevated to the constitutionally established Article III judge status.Senators took a break from discussion on wiretapping to talk about judicial nominations, and held a roll-call vote...
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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