Courts

COA affirms $17.9 million judgment against firm

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Two years ago, a jury hit an Indianapolis law firm with a $17.9 million verdict after it found the firm liable for a failed health plan that left 8,200 Hoosier with unpaid medical bills.The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed an appeal from that general jury verdict and judgment in favor of the state's insurance commissioner, Jim Atterholt. The 37-page opinion, which includes a two-page dissent from Judge Carr Darden, comes in Frederick W. Dennerline III, and Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe...
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Appeal likely in license-plate fee suit

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals will likely be asked to consider whether the Hoosier license plates proclaiming "In God We Trust" violate the state constitution regarding the fees not attached for motorists.Following a ruling released Thursday by Marion Superior Judge Gary Miller, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana plans to appeal on behalf of a Fort Wayne man who sued over the plate a year ago. At issue in Mark E. Studler v. Indiana BMV, No. 49D05-0704-PL-016603, was the $15...
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SCOTUS hears voter ID case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Arguments played out in the Supreme Court of the United States this morning on the legality of Indiana's voter identification law.The nine justices heard an hour of arguments at 10 a.m. in the combined Hoosier cases of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, No. 07-25. Both challenge the state's three-year-old voter photo ID law that's been upheld by both U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.Stakes are...
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COA sides with Lauth in casino suit

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Indianapolis commercial developer Lauth didn't breach a joint venture contract or any of its duties with other parties by partnering with the Bloomington-based Cook Group on an Orange County riverboat casino project, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.In a unanimous holding in Lauth Indiana Resort & Casino LLC v. Lost River Development LLC, et al., 29A02-0710-CV-839, the court ruled on an issue of first impression about when a joint venture terminates in situations where the agreements contain no specific termination date,...
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Judge denies motion to reconsider

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge took some time this week to defend a previous decision that dropped Indiana as a defendant in a suit filed by a Fort Wayne man who accuses police, prosecutors, and the Allen Circuit Court of discriminating against him.Pro se plaintiff Derrick O. Martin asked U.S. District Judge Philip Simon, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, to reconsider the court's ruling from earlier this year. The judge issued a three-page opinion Wednesday denying the request that claimed the...
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Court to consider juvenile detention funding

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals is considering a case this week that has statewide implications on who must pay to operate juvenile detention facilities - the state or individual counties.Arguments are set April 17 in Marion County and St. Joseph County v. State of Indiana, 73A01-0705-CV-238, a suit the counties brought after Indiana tried to recover about $75 million it spent in operating juvenile detention facilities in those two areas. The court will decide whether the trial court erred in entering a decision...
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Courts may modify custody upon relocation

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Trial courts are not required to order a change in custody upon a parental relocation under a 2006 Indiana statute, the Indiana Supreme Court decided today. The high court ruled trial courts are allowed to modify custody arrangements at their own discretion. In Valerie Raich Baxendale v. Samuel Raich, III, No. 64S05-0709-CV-372, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the Indiana Court of Appeals decision, finding the trial court's balancing of relevant considerations in granting physical custody of A.R. to Raich was not erroneous....
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Justices to hear 2 arguments

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court will hear two arguments Thursday morning.At 9 a.m., justices will hear a direct appeal in David Camm v. State, No. 87S00-0612-CR-499, which comes from Warrick Superior Court and involves a former state trooper convicted two years ago of murdering his family.Camm is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole following his second conviction in the September 2000 murders of his wife and their two children, 7-year-old Bradley and 5-year-old Jill, in southern Indiana. The Indiana Court...
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SCOTUS denies Vanderburgh County case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The nation's highest court won't take a Vanderburgh County case decided last year by the Indiana Supreme Court, which by a split vote reinstated the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering his wife and two young children.At its weekly private conference March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Paul M. McManus v. State of Indiana, No. 07-8435. After ruling in State of Indiana v. Paul M. McManus, No. 82S00-0503-PD-78, June 27, 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court denied a...
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School, student settle pledge suit

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Within a week of filing a federal lawsuit, a settlement has been reached on a case involving a high school student who was punished for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.The Franklin Community School Corp. superintendent said the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has agreed to drop the lawsuit. The school district will pay the student's $1,000 in attorney fees, clear his school record, and not require participation by standing or any other way during the Pledge of Allegiance...
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Court rules on 2 water-related cases

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals decided two environmental cases today involving issues pertaining to lake levels and the rights lakefront property owners enjoy.In Center Townhouse Corp., et al. v. City of Mishawaka, No. 71A04-0612-CV-707, the court tackled an issue it hasn't specifically dealt with before and decided not to expand Indiana's riparian rights, or those privileges extended to waterfront property owners, to include the right of unobstructed view of the water.A group of eight townhome owners brought an inverse condemnation action against...
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SCOTUS set to start term

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Next week will be a big one for Indiana in the Supreme Court of the United States.The nation's highest court will hear six arguments next week, including a much-anticipated and publicized case involving Indiana's voter identification law, and another state's case that has Hoosier interest on the constitutionality of lethal injections.On Tuesday, the justices will take on a pair of Indiana cases. The combined cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, No....
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Appeal moot, but attorney fees allowed

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal as moot but awarded the defendant appellate attorney fees and costs because the plaintiff engaged in procedural and substantive bad faith during the appeals process. In Samuel Lesjak v. New England Financial, No. 29A02-0706-CV-499, Lesjak appealed the trial court's order that he arbitrate a claim filed against him by New England Financial in a forum other than the National Association of Securities Dealers. Lesjak worked for New England Securities as a broker/dealer. He registered...
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Chief public defender delays departure

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Expect to see David E. Cook's face at the Marion County Public Defender Agency a little longer than anticipated.The chief public defender is delaying for a month his departure - originally planned for Feb. 15 - to help make sure the agency has adequate leadership while its board of directors searches for a successor. Cook is stepping down after 12 years as the county's top public defender to work for immigration firm Gresk & Singleton in Indianapolis.Because the agency needed leadership...
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COA: Offender residency law not OK

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's ruling that the state's 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 law as applied to Pollard, but the appeals court disagreed and...
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Restitution continues beyond probation period

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed today that trial courts must inquire about a defendant's ability to pay when they order restitution as a condition of probation or a suspended sentence and a restitution obligation continues beyond the end of a probationary period. However, in Jeffrey Pearson v. State of Indiana, No. 45S03-0712-CR-574, the high court affirmed the trial court's order for Pearson to pay at least $150 a month in restitution as a condition of his probation even though the trial court...
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Professor entitled to unemployment benefits

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
University professors who do not have their fixed-termed contracts renewed after the contract expires are entitled to unemployment benefits because their resulting unemployment isn't voluntary, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court Tuesday. In Indiana State University v. William C. LaFief, et al., No. 93S02-0801-EX-17, William LaFief was hired by Indiana State University as an assistant professor for one academic year and was reappointed for the following year. After his second academic year at the university, LaFief was told by the school he would...
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Court allows relief under Crime Victims Statute

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Contract provisions that exempt a party from liability under the Indiana Crime Victims Statute are void when the party violates public policy, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday. In The State Group Industrial (USA) Unlimited v. Murphy & Associates Industrial Services, No. 82A04-0703-CV-158, State Group appealed the trial court judgment denying the company's request for relief under Indiana Code 34-24-3-1, the Crime Victims Statute. The trial court awarded State Group actual damages, but denied relief under the statute based on a...
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Lawmakers pick summer study topics

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State lawmakers have announced what topics they'll explore before the 2009 legislative term begins.On tap: immigration, administrative law judge powers, Indiana's alcoholic beverage laws, and a variety of other legal issues.The Indiana Legislative Council Thursday created multiple new interim study commissions that will meet this summer. What they recommend helps set the stage for the next session. Legislative leaders will appoint lawmakers to the panels in coming weeks, and most must make recommendations to the General Assembly by Nov. 1.One of...
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COA says how to admit DNA testing analysis

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's convictions of child molesting and used the opinion to establish how documents explaining the underlying analysis of DNA testing may be admitted at a criminal trial.In hearing the appeal of Richard Pendergrass v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0712-CR-588, the appellate court discovered after a thorough review of caselaw that there was no precedent in place to establish the admittance at a criminal trial of those documents. Richard Pendergrass appealed his child molesting convictions, arguing...
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SCOTUS upholds Indiana voter ID law

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Indiana's law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot is constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning.The nation's high court issued its decision at 10 a.m. on the pair of consolidated cases, William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, et al., No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party, et al. v. Todd Rokita, No. 07-25. The decision comes just a week prior to Indiana's primary on May 6, upholding the strictest voter ID law in the...
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Judge: 'I didn't lie ...': Marion Superior jurist faces disciplinary panel

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Marion Superior Judge Grant W. Hawkins is used to spending his days in court. But on Oct. 6 and 7, he wasn't on the bench; the jurist was the one being judged. Already, his former part-time commissioner has resigned and been permanently banned from any judicial role because of this issue, and Judge Hawkins is battling 11 misconduct charges against him that could mean his judicial career is on the line. But before he finds out his fate, the judge is...
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State submits SCOTUS brief in pro se case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Trial courts should be able to deny criminal defendants the right to represent themselves when that person can't communicate coherently with the court or jury, the Indiana Attorney General's Office wants the nation's highest court to decide.The state submitted a brief this week to the Supreme Court of the United States, which will hear arguments March 26 in the Hoosier-based pro se case of Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208. You can view the 74-page brief online here.Dating to July 1999,...
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COA affirms order to enjoin

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment enjoining some members of a class action suit from pursuing a quiet title action, finding the agreements of a settlement disposed of all claims in property between the class and a company.In Fern E. Firestone, et al. v. American Premier Underwriters Inc. and U.S. Railroad Vest, Corp., No. 06A01-0804-CV-199, the appellate court had to determine whether the trial court erred in ruling that claims brought by Wayne E. Boyd and Bunker Farms to...
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Insurance write-offs benefit for insured

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled write-offs constitute insurance benefits for which an insured has paid directly, and as a result opposing parties in suits can't introduce evidence of write-offs to reduce damage awards. In Brandon Stanley v. Danny Walker, No. 41A01-0610-CV-462, the appellate court looked to courts in other jurisdictions for the answer to whether write-offs negotiated by an insurer amount to an "insurance benefit" and should therefore be excluded when calculating the actual extent...
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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