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Lawyers assist vets; benefit Feb. 29

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
Veterans of Valor, an organization to assist injured veterans and supported by a number of Indianapolis attorneys, will sponsor a fundraiser and open house Feb. 29 in Greenwood.The event will feature a presentation of the organization's recently released Web site, www.veteransofvalor.org, as well as information about different ways to get involved.The organization is seeking volunteers who can make a long-term commitment and those who only have enough time to help with short-term projects. Because the organization is relatively new, there are...
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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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Nominees sought for Indianapolis civic award

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indianapolis Mayor's Office is currently accepting nominations for the Charles L. Whistler Award.The award is named after a Baker & Daniels senior partner, Whistler, who gave his time and abilities to the Indianapolis community. At the time of his death in 1981, he was chairman of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee's Urban Growth and Revitalization Task Force, and the White River State Park Citizen's Advisory Committee. Nominations are open to anyone in Indianapolis except currently appointed government employees and public...
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Law student runs for human rights: IU Law - Indianapolis organization recipient of 3L's fundraising efforts

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The International Human Rights Law Society at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis will have more money to work with now than its $375 budget from the beginning of the school year, thanks to the organization's vice president. The IHRLS is the student group that has researched, written, and presented shadow reports to experts for the United Nations Human Rights Council. Funds for the organization bring international human rights experts to speak at the school, present movie nights that are...
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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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Law student turns 6 today

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
While Feb. 29, which happens every four years, marks just another day for most, a first-year law student at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis will celebrate his sixth birthday today.Mike Doversberger, an Elkhart native born Feb. 29, 1984, said he might use the birthday as a way to break the ice at a job interview today. Later, he will celebrate with friends and family."I like to put it on the resume that I graduated from Notre Dame (undergrad) before...
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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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Plea agreement, child support issues granted transfer

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to one case dealing with child support, and two cases dealing post-conviction relief. The court also granted transfer to three cases involving sex offenders.In the case Marla K. Young v. Timothy S. Young, No. 09A05-0701-CV-52, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's calculation of Timothy's child support obligation. The appellate court found the trial court erroneously calculated Timothy's weekly gross income, and remanded the trial court to add...
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Dead candidates remain on primary ballot

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals examined state statutes to determine which apply when a candidate dies before the primary but wins the election, an issue the court hadn't tackled before. In Dan Lockard v. Charles Miles and John Mullican, No. 84A04-0708-CV-493, Lockard challenged his loss to Charles Miles in the Terre Haute Democratic primary. Miles died April 18, 2007, nearly three weeks before the May 8 primary, and media in Terre Haute first reported his death April 19. Lockard and Miles were...
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State bar seeks award nominations

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana State Bar Association is accepting nominations for awards the organization traditionally hands out at its annual meeting in October. Nominations for the following awards will be accepted through July 15: Outstanding Judge Award, Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, Rabb Emison Award, Hon. Viola Taliaferro Award, and David Hamacher Public Service Award. In addition, nominations are due by July 15 for three civility awards handed out by the Litigation Section of the state bar: the GP Hall of Fame, Liberty Bell...
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Online opinions access hits a snag

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Court-watchers looking online to view Indiana's appellate decisions have been denied two days of opinions because those published rulings were not posted online.A set of three dozen opinions came down Tuesday and Wednesday, but a change last month in how access is provided to those daily rulings meant that only online viewers, those directly involved in a decided case, or those who've traveled to the Indiana Statehouse to inspect opinions knew that any rulings had been released.By noon today, a list...
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Attorneys wanted for flood assistance

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana State Bar Association is looking for attorneys to help answer legal questions of Hoosiers affected by this month's flooding. Flood victims can call the bar association's toll-free number to receive free legal assistance for issues relating to the flooding. Community Outreach Coordinator Alaina Byers said volunteer attorneys can be from anywhere in the state. Flood victims will contact the state bar at (800) 266-2581 and leave their contact information and legal issue. The ISBA will pass along the information...
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New DOC commissioner named

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The superintendent of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City has been named the new Department of Corrections commissioner. Edwin Buss will succeed Dave Donahue Aug. 1. Donahue announced his resignation as commissioner earlier this week. Buss, a LaPorte native, has been superintendent of the Michigan City facility since 2005 and was superintendent at the Westville Correctional Facility from 2002 to 2005. He began his career as a correctional officer in 1987 at the Indiana State Prison. Donahue announced his resignation...
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COA to conduct arguments in Syracuse

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels north to a Syracuse high school Thursday to hear arguments in a case involving the search and discovery of drugs in a car. In Jerald J. Womack v. State of Indiana, 43A03-0706-CR-251, Womack appealed his convictions and sentence for Class D felony marijuana possession and for being a habitual controlled-substance offender. The Court of Appeals will determine whether the police search of Womack's car violated his rights under the U.S. and Indiana constitutions and if...
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Central Indiana law firms merge

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Two central Indiana law firms have merged in order to provide their clients with all their legal needs in one firm. Indianapolis law firm Coleman Stevenson and The Montel Law Firm of Carmel officially became Coleman Stevenson & Montel today. The merger, which has been in talks for three months, came out of need, said Gerald Coleman, partner at Coleman Stevenson & Montel.The Montel Law Firm often represents clients in business and transaction work, but doesn't do much in terms of litigation,...
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SCOTUS rules on money laundering

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
In a split decision this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States has defined money laundering and tossed out the convictions of an East Chicago man.The high court ruled on U.S. v. Efrain Santos, et al., No. 06-1005, which involved a money-laundering ring in East Chicago.A majority of justices held today that "proceeds" according to the federal money-laundering statute applies only to transactions involving criminal profits, not criminal receipts.Indianapolis attorney Todd Vare with Barnes & Thornburg argued before the high court...
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Incurred risk not malpractice defense

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A doctor cannot use evidence of a patient's previous surgeries or pursue an incurred-risk defense against a medical malpractice suit, the Court of Appeals ruled today. In Brenda Spar v. Jin S. Cha, M.D., No. 45A05-0611-CV-683, Spar appealed the jury decision in favor of Dr. Cha in her medical malpractice claim against the OB/GYN for a surgery he performed on her. Spar previously had been in a serious automobile accident and as a result had numerous abdominal surgeries. When she decided to...
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District Court upholds jury award against GM

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A U.S. District judge chastised General Motors for the way the company treated its salaried employees who gave up being under union protection and later wanted to rejoin the union as hourly workers. In an opinion released Aug. 15, Judge David Hamilton of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, upheld a $3.1 jury award against GM for promissory estoppel claims, finding the plaintiffs had provided sufficient evidence to prove their Sixth Amendment claim against the company. Judge...
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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

  2. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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