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Split court reinstates death sentence

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has reinstated the death sentence for a Vanderburgh County man who a lower court judge found was mentally retarded and should be sentenced to life without parole for the killing of his wife and two young children.A split court issued the 19-page opinion today in State v. Paul M. McManus, No. 82S00-0503-PD-78, with Justices Ted Boehm and Robert d. Rucker dissenting from the majority of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, and Justices Brent Dickson and Frank Sullivan.McManus...
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High court hears 2 cases

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Justices heard arguments this morning on two cases, one asking whether mayors have veto power over certain zoning variances approved by local officials.First arguments before the Indiana Supreme Court came in Heidbreder, Inc. v. Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Crown Point, 858 N.E.2d 1999 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006). The Court of Appeals in December reversed the trial court in its decision involving a special-use variance request. The case stems from a request by Heidbreder to locate a concrete...
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Court revises sentence to fix double jeopardy issue

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Appellate courts must frequently address claims from convicted criminals that counsel was ineffective, sentences are unreasonable, or that the charges violate double jeopardy.Rarely does the state concede that convictions violate double jeopardy principles, as happened in a case decided Tuesday by the Indiana Supreme Court.In Chad E. Strong v. State of Indiana, No. 20S03-0612-CR-529, the Indiana Attorney General's Office acknowledged the defendant's claim that two convictions - one for murder and another for neglect of a dependent resulting in the same...
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ND professor speaks on NPR about Supreme Court

January 1, 2007
IL Staff
Among Chief Justice John Roberts' first full term highlights were a number of decisions on race and public schools, free speech, and abortion. Richard W. Garnett, the John Cardinal O'Hara, CSC associate professor of law at Notre Dame University participated in a discussion with two other leading U.S. Supreme Court watchers in front of a live audience at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.The July 10 event analyzed highlights of the latest term of the Supreme Court and addressed the question,...
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Firms focus on agriculture, energy, climate policy

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Two Indianapolis firms are forming new practice groups to focus on agriculture, energy, and climate-policy issues.Baker & Daniels is assembling an energy and climate policy group of about 10 attorneys with experience in legal areas such as anti-trust, Securities and Exchange Commission, intellectual property, and tax law, according to attorney Terry Hall who will head the group with a colleague in Washington, D.C.The firm has been working for about 18 months on forming the group, and its creation comes at a...
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Excise tax allowed on couple's marijuana

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Tax Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Indiana Department of State Revenue in a controlled-substance excise-tax case, ruling Monday that charging the tax does not apply to Indiana's joinder and successive prosecution statutes.In John David Harrison and Jennifer A. Harrison v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, No.49T10-0409-TA-44, the Harrisons appealed the final determination of the Department of State Revenue, which assessed them with a controlled-substance excise tax (CSET) on the nearly 6,500 grams of marijuana police found in...
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Court clarifies where tax disputes belong

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
General jurisdiction courts don't have the authority to consider cases involving tax law or the Department of Local Government Finance, and the Indiana Court of Appeals says it also doesn't have the authority to remand those cases to the Indiana Tax Court.An appellate panel made its point clear in an opinion on rehearing today in Wayne Township, Marion County, Indiana v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, and Martha Womacks, Marion County Auditor, No. 29A05-0611-CV-661. This comes as a clarification and...
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Courts weighing execution, mental illness

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Execution and the mentally ill continue to be topics before the courts.The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments Wednesday in Panetti v. Quarterman, No. 06-640, a Texas case that asks whether it violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute a delusional inmate who does not understand why he is being put to death.That case is one that Indiana Supreme Court justices are closely watching to decide how they ;ll handle a condemned man ;s...
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High court adopts 'substantial trustworthiness' test

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has adopted a "substantial trustworthiness" test to determine the reliability of hearsay evidence in probation revocation hearings.A 5-0 decision came today in George Reyes v. State of Indiana, 01S02-0612-CR-495, which comes from Adams Circuit Court and involves a man once convicted and imprisoned for aggravated battery. Reyes began probation in 2000 after his release from prison, but in February 2005 his probation officer filed a violation petition because Reyes tested positive for marijuana. An agreement with the...
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Court reverses probation revocation

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A mapping system showing a potential day-care center near a residence wasn't enough to convince to the Indiana Court of Appeals that a Marion County sex offender's probation should be revoked for staying at the residence one night.The court unanimously ruled today in Clinton Carden v. State of Indiana, 49A02-0608-CR-700. Marion Superior Magistrate Nancy Broyles had revoked Carden's four-year probation that was a result of his 2001 guilty plea to one felony count of child molesting and part of his overall...
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Court reverses COA decision in zoning issue

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed that both the Board of Zoning Appeals of Evansville-Vanderburgh County and trial court were correct in denying the construction of a cellular tower that would be located too close to a residence under a county zoning code.In St. Charles Tower, Inc. v. Board of Zoning Appeals of Evansville-Vanderburgh County, 82S01-0702-CV-69, the state's highest court yesterday overturned the Court of Appeals ruling that found the BZA's decision to deny St. Charles the special-use permit was not supported by...
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Choke hold violated man's rights, justices rule

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Police violated a man's constitutional protection rights when officers grabbed him by the throat and squeezed to stop him from swallowing a plastic baggie of cocaine, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled.Justices issued a unanimous opinion Thursday in John Grier v. State of Indiana, No. 49S05-0702-CR-68. The Marion Superior case involved a traffic stop in August 2005, when officers stopped Grier for having an expired license plate. He was gagging after being ordered out of the car, and when he opened...
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High court will select temporary judge

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court plans to appoint a judge pro tem for Lawrence Circuit Court within days after the local judge was found dead at his home earlier this week.Judge Richard D. McIntyre, 51, of Bedford was discovered in his detached garage Tuesday evening by his wife. The Lawrence County Coroner determined he died of likely self-induced carbon monoxide poisoning, according to an announcement this morning.The Lawrence County native had been the Circuit judge for nearly 20 years, and the county...
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AG urges court not to review voter ID law

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The nearing 2008 presidential election is a key reason why the Supreme Court of the United States should not accept a challenge to Indiana's two-year-old voter identification law, the Indiana Attorney General's Office argues in a brief filed with the nation's highest court.Even while recognizing that the constitutionality of voter identification laws is a significant question that may eventually need review, the 29-page brief filed this week urges the court to deny a petition for certiorari.This reply follows the July petition...
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S.C. to hear arresting-powers case

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to a Marion Superior Court case involving an arrest by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer who did not attend the swearing-in ceremony early this year. At issue is whether that arrest should stand. The Indiana Attorney General's office filed a petition Aug. 27 to bypass the Court of Appeals and transfer the case, State v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, 49A05-0708-CR-445, directly to the Supreme Court. The state appeals the Aug. 7 ruling by Marion Superior Court...
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Judge rules Fishers can annex Geist

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana caselaw is well settled on jurisdiction relating to annexations and incorporations, and a Hamilton Superior judge has determined Fishers should be allowed to proceed with annexing thousands of acres in Geist.Judge Steven Nation ruled today on a high-publicity case involving the proposed annexation by Fishers of 2,200 homes in unincorporated Geist area. At issue was whether the county had jurisdiction over the annexation because of the timeline of petitions filed.In mid-September Fishers had introduced an ordinance to start annexing the...
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Court rules on judicial mandates

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Trial judges must work with county officials and share the decision making of how court money is spent, the Indiana Supreme Court has reiterated.A pair of anticipated rulings issued Wednesday shows how the state's high court will step in when those disputes can't be managed locally.Justice Frank Sullivan issued both decisions for the unanimous court in Clark County Council and Clark County Auditor v. Daniel F. Donahue, Cecile A. Blau, Vicki Carmichael, and Steven M. Fleece, 10S00-0606-CV-199, and In Re: Order for...
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COA to hear 4 cases; one at Plainfield High School

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments in four cases next week, including one on the road at Plainfield High School.A three-judge panel will hear arguments Monday in Meridian Insurance v. Cha Cha, Inc., No. 53A01-0608-CV-352, which poses the question of whether the period for restoration of a business damaged by fire in an adjoining building should be decided by the courts or through the appraisal process.The following day two panels will hear afternoon arguments - David Scholtman v. Taza...
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New trial court management director needed

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Someone new will soon be overseeing aspects of Indiana's trial court management.Colleen O'Brien, who'd served as executive director of trial court management for about a year and been with the Supreme Court's State Court Administration division for about two years, has taken a position as a staff attorney with the Indiana Court of Appeals.The person chosen for this high-level court position will be responsible for overseeing duties relating to the operation of Indiana's trial courts, including the administration of a data...
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Court opinions, orders online

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Internet is now the main method for getting a look at any opinions, orders, and decisions from Indiana's appellate courts.Starting today, the appellate clerk's office hopes to save money and be more environmentally friendly by discontinuing its practice of providing courtesy copies of published orders, opinions, and disciplinary actions. Traditionally, those have been available to media and news outlets free of charge. The office hasn't calculated the budget savings, but hopes to reduce the paper consumption by about 88,000 sheets...
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Partial residential entry enough for conviction

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
Whether your whole body, the upper half, or just a hand enters someone else's home, that's enough to be considered "entering" under Indiana statute for conviction of residential entry. The Court of Appeals ruled today on the definition of entering a dwelling under the residential entry statute, something the courts haven't defined in previous cases. In Robert Williams v. State, 49A05-0612-CR-688, Williams appealed his conviction for residential entry, a Class D felony, arguing that only the upper half of his body leaned...
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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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