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Chief Justice on panel to study tax assessing, local government

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard will co-chair a commission designed to find long-term solutions to the state's property tax crisis, the governor announced today.Along with former Gov. Joe Kernan, the chief justice will lead the Commission on Local Government Reform beginning in early August. One of the questions the commission will look at is whether the township form of government should be abolished.Specifically, questions before the commission will be:- What local government offices might be eliminated to achieve efficiencies and...
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Governor names new Lake, Marion judges

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Gov. Mitch Daniels today chose a Gary attorney and legal counsel for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources director for a pair of judicial openings in Lake and Marion counties.Gary attorney Calvin Hawkins will take over as Lake Superior judge in September, replacing Judge Robert A. Pete who died in March. Admitted to the Indiana bar in 1971, Hawkins has concentrated his practice in civil and church litigation, as well as bankruptcy, probate, and family law. He earned his law degree...
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Proposed law school info session Wednesday

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
There will be an information session July 11 for those interested in the Abraham Clark School of Law, a for-profit school proposed for Indianapolis. The session will begin at 6 p.m. at Springhill Suites, 11855 N. Meridian St., Carmel.The law school is being started by Mark Montefiori, a businessman with 13 years of experience in higher education. It's still early in the planning stages, but the goal is for the school to have an emphasis on teaching business people about the...
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Court rules on corporate insurance policy issues

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
One of the first things you'll notice about an Indiana Court of Appeals decision issued today is the number of attorneys and parties on the case.The first four pages of the 29-page ruling in Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al. v. U.S. Filter Corp., list the parties and respective attorneys. Those include 13 appellant insurance companies and organizations, two appellees-plaintiffs, and three amici curiae parties from Indianapolis; Washington, D.C.; New York, Chicago; and parts of Michigan.Issues addressed in this case...
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Fort Wayne is first for 'Courts in Classroom' re-enactment

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court will take its educational Courts in the Classroom program on the road for the first time this fall as it celebrates its six-year anniversary.A re-enactment of a historic U.S. Supreme Court case arising out the Fort Wayne area will be the first on the road event Oct. 17 and 18 at the Lincoln Museum. That case, Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866), involved civilians and military tribunals, and the lead defendant, Lambdin Milligan, was from that...
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Justices deny previously granted transfer

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Despite a previous decision to accept a case, the Indiana Supreme Court has decided to revoke its previous order to consider whether Indiana or Illinois law should apply to a dram shop suit.Now, a Court of Appeals decision from March will stand, meaning Indiana law applies to the case.Justices this week vacated its July decision to accept transfer in Rebecca Shaw, Individually, and for the Estate of Kayla Nichole Hughes, and Stephen Hughes v. LDC Enterprises d/b/a I&I Steakhouse, et al., in...
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High court asked to intervene in recount

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court is being asked to toss out a trial judge's order for a Terre Haute mayoral race recount because the petitioner failed to include the winner's middle initial.Attorney James Bopp Jr. with Terre Haute law firm Bopp Coleson & Bostrom filed an emergency request Thursday afternoon for the justices to intervene in the recount challenge, contending that Vigo Circuit Judge David Bolk didn't have jurisdiction to order a recount from the Nov. 6 election. Democratic Mayor Kevin Burke...
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Indiana Supreme Court denies review of Kokomo case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Within hours of hearing oral arguments, the Indiana Supreme Court decided not to grant transfer to review the case involving a Kokomo fire captain ;s demotion to firefighter because of comments made from outside the department. The appeals court had ruled the demotion did not constitute a violation of his First Amendment free-speech rights.The court had not released a decision by early this afternoon, but the City of Kokomo had posted a press release saying the justices did not agree to...
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Interviews for COA spot start today

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Judicial Nominating Commission has started interviewing for a future opening on the Indiana Court of Appeals.This afternoon, the seven-member commission began interviewing eight candidates for the seat currently occupied by Judge Patrick D. Sullivan, who retires in August. Interviews are scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. and will resume with another 12 interviews Tuesday morning.Candidates being interviewed today are Susan E. Boatright, juvenile division supervisor at the Marion County Public Defender Agency; Briane M. House with ProLiance Energy; Marion Superior...
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Court reverses auto theft conviction

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a conviction of auto theft and remanded the case to the trial court, citing insufficient evidence to prove the defendant had exclusive possession of the vehicle from the time of the theft until police saw him in the stolen car. In Steven Shelby v. State of Indiana, 49A05-0704-CR-202, Shelby appealed his conviction and sentence of auto theft, a Class D felony, and the trial court's finding him to be a habitual offender. On Nov. 7,2006,...
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Dog attack justifies battery charge

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
Commanding an animal to attack a person can justify an aggravated battery charge under Indiana statute, ruled the Court of Appeals today. In Shaquita Gilbert v. State of Indiana, 49A02-0606-CR-448, the Court of Appeals affirmed Gilbert's conviction for aggravated battery, a Class B felony under Indiana Code 35-42-2-1.5. Gilbert appealed, saying there is insufficient evidence showing she caused the injuries that brought on the aggravated battery conviction. Gilbert commanded a pit bull in the home where she lived to attack Veronica McAtee....
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COA semifinalists interview Wednesday

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Seven semifinalists go before the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission Wednesday in their quest for a seat on the state's second highest appellate court.Facing second interviews, those judges and attorneys will focus their thoughts on what they consider their two finest career accomplishments and what two items need most improving at the Indiana Court of Appeals.The interviews - which are open to the public - will be in the Statehouse, Room 319, which is near the Indiana Supreme Court's courtroom on the...
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First interviews done for COA opening

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
They came to the capitol building in Indianapolis from across the state, facing a barrage of questions about why they want to be an appellate court judge.Seven will return for a second round next month.The Judicial Nominating Commission conducted its first round of interviews Tuesday for a seat on the state's second highest appeals court, an opening that will be created by Judge John T. Sharpnack's retirement in May 2008. The seven semi-finalists, selected after the daylong session of interviews and...
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High court affirms trial court in murder case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A life-without-parole sentence is appropriate for the Elkhart County teen who pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder his girlfriend's mom, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.The unanimous decision in Spenser A. Krempetz v. State of Indiana, No. 20S00-0607-CR-270, came down today and affirmed the ruling by Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker.In August 2005, 18-year old Krempetz conspired with his 17-year-old girlfriend Hannah Stone and a mutual friend to "get rid of" Stone's mom because Stone was annoyed that her mother, Barbara Jo...
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Potential COA judges: Apply now

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Applications are now being accepted for the second opening on the Indiana Court of Appeals in less than a year.Judge John T. Sharpnack is stepping down May 3, 2008, because of mandatory retirement, and his successor has until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 1 to apply for the upcoming vacancy.The seven-member Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, chaired by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, will conduct first public interviews with applicants Nov. 12 and 13 in Indianapolis, followed by second interviews Dec. 12. The commission...
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COA named as defendant in federal lawsuit

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a conviction for Class C felony nonsupport of a dependant, despite the court being named as a defendant in a federal suit filed by the disgruntled appellant-defendant.In Christopher J. Stephens v. State of Indiana, 20A05-0702-CR-95, Stephens appealed his felony conviction of nonsupport of his child, as well as issues that should have been challenged during his child support proceedings or trial on the matter. Unhappy with the results of his child support order and conviction,...
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Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter summary being questioned

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A case summary printed in The Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter earlier this year is at issue in a Lake County courtroom, where a judge is considering whether the publisher should be held in contempt for writing about a school negligence case three months after the verdict.The April edition of the monthly publication - published in Indiana since February 2000 - included an outline of a case involving the family of Neal Boyd IV, who had sued Gary Community Schools for not protecting...
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COA affirms warrantless entry

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to deny a defendant's motion to suppress his arrest and charges, ruling the defendant's behavior justified the police officers to enter his home without a warrant. In William McDermott v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0609-CR-755, McDermott brought an interlocutory appeal of the trial court order denying his motion to suppress his arrest and charges stemming from that. McDermott argued the police officers who entered his home were not justified and did so without...
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High court rules on client-attorney relationship

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court today ruled on a case involving an attorney-client relationship, overturning the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the attorney. In Ronald D. Liggett, d/b/a Liggett Construction Company v. Dean A. and Elisabeth Young, No. 38S0-0703-CV-80, Liggett appealed the trial court ruling in a contract dispute with the Youngs. At the time the Youngs hired Liggett to build their home, Dean Young worked as attorney for Liggett on an unrelated matter. Liggett initiated a third-party complaint...
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COA reverses predator's lifetime registration

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's convictions and sentence for multiple sexual offenses but reversed the trial court's determination he is a sexually violent predator requiring lifetime registration, citing the statute that was in place during the time the crime happened should dictate the defendant's predator status. In Anthony Thompson v. State of Indiana, 03A01-0610-CR-430, Thompson appealed his convictions and sentence of 63 years for sexual offenses against the victim, as well as his status as a lifetime sexually violent predator....
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Judge: arresting authority gone without oath

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office and Indiana Attorney General's Office plan to appeal a judge's ruling Tuesday that held Indianapolis officers don't have arresting authority because they didn't retain their sworn status following a police merger at the start of the year.Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill decided that the January drunk driving arrest of Cheryl Oddi-Smith was illegal because the arresting officer was not sworn in after the Jan. 1 merger between the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Indianapolis Police...
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Court rules nurse pay plan proper

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals ruled today Indiana's restructured pay plan for nurses was rational and proper, reversing the judgment of the trial court. In Madison State Hospital, Indiana Family & Social Services Administration, and State Personnel Department V. Karen L. Ferguson, 09A04-0703-CV-259, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's award of relief to Karen Ferguson. Ferguson, a Nurse Supervisor 5 at Madison State Hospital, and six other nurse supervisors, filed separate complaints with the State Employee Appeals Commission, arguing the 2000...
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IJA elects new president

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
Allen Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Felts was elected president of the Indiana Judges Association earlier this month. Judge Felts, along with Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, will serve as spokespersons for Indiana's judges. Judge Felts' goals for his term include continuing the association's efforts to modify and upgrade the judicial pension and benefits by aligning the 1977 and 1985 judicial pension plans and including magistrates under the plan. Currently, magistrates receive benefits separately through the Public Employees Retirement Fund. Legislative...
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High court revises burglary sentence

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court reduced a burglar's sentence, finding his crime didn't justify the 40-year sentence imposed by the trial court. At issue in Steven Hollin v. State of Indiana, No. 69S01-0705-CR-188, is whether the trial court properly sentenced Hollin for his conviction of conspiracy to commit burglary and being a habitual offender.Hollin and a friend knocked on doors in Ripley County to determine if residents were home. If the home appeared empty, they planned to rob the house. Hollin and...
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COA affirms Vectren, Citizens lack of standing

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a breach-of-contract complaint filed by Vectren Energy and Citizens By-products Coal Co. against Executive Risk Specialty Insurance, finding the two companies never had standing to file the complaint because they are trying to fix alleged wrongdoings done to another company, rather than themselves.In Vectren Energy Marketing & Service, Inc., et al. v. Executive Risk Specialty Insurance Co., ProLiance Energy, LLC, et al., 82A05-0702-CV-115, Vectren and Citizens appealed the trial court's order granting Executive...
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