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Justices decide on 3 death penalty cases

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court justices have the state's death penalty system on their minds.Three rulings handed down this week have involved capital cases, including one that sets a new execution date for a condemned inmate. But some of the written rationale shows reluctance on at least two justices' parts to impose the death sentence.In a ruling dated May 21in Michael Allen Lambert v. State of Indiana http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05210701ad.pdf, No. 18S00-0412-SD-503, the court denied the latest appeal and ordered a new execution date...
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Justices accept 3 cases this week

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court will consider cases involving payments under the Worker's Compensation Act and also how to determine whether someone is a sexually violent predator, justices decided this week.Two transfers came Thursday in Christopher Brown, DDS, Inc. v. Decatur County Memorial Hospital, 93A02-0703-EX-236, and Alan C. Jones v. State of Indiana, 61A01-0704-CR-174. Justices also granted another case, Aaron Reid v. State, with an opinion that reduced an Anderson man's sentence by 20 years in a murder for hire plot.In Brown, the court...
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Court upholds dismissal of battery claim against medical student

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
An emergency medical technician student sued for battery after incorrectly performing a procedure on a patient did not commit battery, the Indiana Supreme Court has decided.The 5-0 decision came in W. Ruth Mullins and Johnce Mullins, Jr. v. Parkview Hospital, Inc., et al., http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05020701fsj.pdf, No. 02S04-0608-CV-292, reversing a Court of Appeals decision that the student had battered patient Ruth Mullins, who was undergoing a hysterectomy in 2000 at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. During the procedure, the student, LaRea VanHoey, performed...
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Court grants absolute privilege case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court will consider whether absolute privilege exists for communications made in the course of official proceedings brought under a university's anti-harassment policies.The court granted transfer Wednesday in Virginia Hartman and Suzanne Swinehart v. Dr. Gabe Keri , No. 02A03-0603-CV-135, which comes from Allen Superior Judge David Avery.Keri became an assistant professor of education in August 2000 at Indiana University-Purdue University - Fort Wayne and was notified in April 2003 that his contract wouldn't be renewed because of unsatisfactory...
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Parents sue over school uniform policy

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The newest First Amendment and freedom of expression case is playing out over mandatory school uniforms in Anderson.Parents Scott and Laura Bell filed a suit in Madison Circuit Court on Tuesday against the Anderson Community School Corp., claiming that a policy set to start next month would violate the constitutional right of children for a free education.The dress code, which is similar to those implemented in other Hoosier school districts such as the Indianapolis Public Schools, limits students to black, navy,...
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High court denies recount issues

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court won't get involved in a recount challenge to Terre Haute's mayoral election.Justices voted 5-0 Thursday to deny both a writ of prohibition and writ of mandamus requested by Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr., who represents the man who'd won the Nov. 6 mayoral election.Republican Duke Bennett won by 106 votes and was challenging recount petitions filed by incumbent mayor, Democrat Kevin Burke. Bopp argued Burke's petitions weren't valid and that Vigo Circuit Judge David Bolk didn't...
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Court rules on genetic testing on deceased

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals ruled today that the interests and parties involved in a deceased person's estate must be represented when an order for genetic testing is given. In the case, In the Matter of the Paternity of C.M.R., a child born out of wedlock, http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08070701tac.pdf Kari Schenkel brings an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order for the genetic testing of her and her two children to determine if Joseph Miller, who is deceased, fathered C.M.R., the child of Jennifer...
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First female partner in Evansville wins Greshem Award

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
The Evansville Bar Association presented Evansville attorney Sheila M. Corcoran with the James Bethel Greshem Award at the bar association's annual Law Day dinner. Corcoran practices with Berger & Berger in Evansville. The James Bethel Greshem Freedom Award recognizes and honors individuals who have distinguished themselves in activities or careers that have elevated respect for the law, promote freedom, or further the ideals of Law Day. The award's namesake lived in Evansville from 1901 to 1914 and is believed to have...
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Supreme Court revises rules, creates new committees

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has created two new committees to study issues relating to pro se litigants and child advocacy.The Planning Committee on Self-Represented Litigants will provide a long-range strategy for improving access to justice for pro se litigations, including protocols for judges and clerks or general guidance to courts, legal service providers, and public organizations. This group will meet at least four times a year and recommend policy or procedure changes to the Supreme Court.The number of members isn't outlined,...
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Court rules on habeas corpus competency case

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case of first impression today regarding a prisoner's competency to continue on with habeas corpus proceedings. In its decision, the Circuit Court remanded to the District Court. Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote the court finds it odd to think that someone who initiates a habeas corpus proceeding can then later freeze it by claiming to be mentally incompetent. That is what Eric Holmes is claming in Eric D. Holmes v. Edwin G....
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Indiana RV makers being sued over hurricane-issued trailers

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
More than a dozen RV manufacturers that supplied the Federal Emergency Management Agency with trailers following Hurricane Katrina are being sued in federal court in Louisiana, including a handful based in Indiana.A suit filed this week in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans accuses the manufacturers of using inferior construction materials in a profit-driven rush to build the trailers for the federal government. The 63-page filing includes nearly 50 pages of more than 500 plaintiffs who've lived in the...
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Court: Buyer's remorse doesn't entitle refund

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana Supreme Court ruling reinforces the phrase "buyer beware" during tax sales, affirming that a purchaser at a tax sale who doesn't seek a tax deed as required under Indiana Code is not entitled to a partial refund of the purchase price. In the case In Re: Parcels Sold for Delinquent Taxes, Vanderburgh County Auditor et al. v. Michiana Campgrounds, LLC, 82S01-0701-CV2, the Supreme Court yesterday reversed the trial court's grant of Michiana's motion for a refund of the purchase price...
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Court rules on police investigation methods

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Admission of a handgun and related evidence has been tossed by an Indiana Court of Appeals panel on grounds that police who stopped the defendant and retrieved the weapon didn't have sufficient cause to do so.The appellate court ruled today in Sarail Jamerson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0608-CR-779, arising out of Marion Superior Court 19 and an investigatory stop in June 2006.Three Indianapolis Police Department officers learned a county detective wanted them to locate the appellant-defendant Jamerson in connection with...
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President picks Judge Tinder for 7th Circuit seat

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge in Indianapolis is poised to be the first Hoosier jurist appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in 20 years.The White House announced late Tuesday afternoon that President George W. Bush is nominating U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder to the Circuit Court. He'd replace retiring Circuit Judge Daniel A. Manion, who came from South Bend after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.A lifelong Indianapolis resident and a graduate of Indiana University School...
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Justices grant transfer, will hear 2 arguments this week

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
 The Indiana Supreme Court has granted one transfer and is hearing two other cases this week involving trade secrets and claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress. Justices late last week granted transfer of Steven Hollin v. State, 69A01-0609-CR-401, which was an unpublished memorandum ruling from the Court of Appeals in March. The case stems from a conviction and sentencing appeal involving conspiracy to commit burglary and a habitual offender charge. Hollin claimed it was fundamental error for the trial court...
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Court reverses insurer's summary judgment

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals today reversed a summary judgment award in favor of an auto insurance company, holding that an uninsured-motorist claim was not barred by state statute and language of the insurance policy. In Mary Lou Smith, et al. v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., No. 84A01-0611-CV-516, the appellate court had to decide whether Smith's claim for uninsured motorist coverage against her policyholder, Auto-Owners, was allowed based on her policy and Indiana Code 27-7-5-4.Smith and several family members were involved in a...
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Sheriff's deputies can hold elected office, court rules

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A sheriff's deputy has the right to hold an elected position and in doing so isn't violating state law against holding dual, lucrative offices, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.In Walter Thompson v. Mark Hays http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/06060701mgr.pdf, 72A01-0607-CV-294, the court upheld a Scott County ruling last year dismissing a claim filed by local resident Walter Thompson, who filed a complaint against Mark Hays following the November 2002 general election. Thompson accused Hays of holding the dual offices and sought an order...
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Governor chooses next Court of Appeals judge

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The governor announced today that Marion Superior Judge Cale Bradford will be the newest jurist on the Indiana Court of Appeals.Judge Bradford will replace Judge Patrick D. Sullivan, who is retiring Aug. 1 as a result of reaching mandatory retirement age of 75. He will represent the second judicial district, which encompasses 19 counties in central Indiana.Gov. Mitch Daniels got nominations from the Judicial Nominating Commission May 18 and by law was required to make a decision within 60 days. Judge...
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Appeals court upholds arbitration award

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed an arbitration award against Citizens Gas & Coke Utility today, ruling the arbitrator did not exceed her power in determining an employee was unjustly terminated and his widow was entitled to his life insurance policy through the collective bargain agreement. In Citizens Gas & Coke Utility v. Local Union No. 1400, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 49A05-0612-CV-751, Citizens appealed the trial court's denial of its verified complaint and application to vacate arbitration award, or in the...
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COA rules on fireworks wholesalers' challenge

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals ruling today that firework wholesalers have an administrative process to determine whether Indiana Code section 22-11-14-5 requires fireworks wholesalers to obtain certificates of compliance for each location reinforces an earlier Supreme Court decision on the matter. In Roger Johnson, as Indiana State Fire Marshal v. Patriotic Fireworks, Inc. et al., the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the fire marshal's motion to dismiss the consolidated complaints of Patriotic Fireworks and other fireworks wholesalers and remanded...
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Law library closing extended through June

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Don't expect to be able to use the Indiana Supreme Court Law Library as soon as planned.The library on the second floor of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis will be completely closed starting today through June 25 for restorative painting, according to librarian Terri Ross. The library has been open intermittently throughout May for an ongoing building-wide heating and air conditioning renovation, she said.Originally, the plan was for closing between April 30 and June 11; now the closing will continue for...
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Court rules on underinsured motorists coverage

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today on when injured claimants in an automobile accident can seek to recover more money under a single Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist policy.In Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. David Eakle, et al., the court used previous cases Allstate Ins Co v. Sanders 644 N.E.2d 884, 887 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994) and Grange Ins. Co v. Graham 843 N.E.2d 597, 599 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006) to determine the trial court erred in denying Auto-Owners judgment on the...
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Court orders new sentence for child support nonpayer

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana Court of Appeals panel found itself today determining the legislature's intent in revising a statute on nonpayment of child support, an issue it describes as having little to no precedent.Though its analysis ended with little answer, the appellate court applied the doctrine of amelioration to conclude a defendant should receive a lower class of felony on nonpayment of about $13,000 in child support from Class C to Class D.The decision released today is Bobby Lee Turner, Jr. v. State...
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Federal judge gives green light to trial

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge in Indianapolis has ruled a lawsuit can proceed to trial over a "very fast, and valuable, race car."The Not for Publication opinion issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder is Reginald D. "Don" Whittington Jr. v. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation a.k.a. Hall of Fame Museum, No. 1:06-cv-0333-JDT-TAB.Judge Tinder denied motions for summary judgment and determined that a trial is the only likely way to resolve this dispute involving the ownership of a famous Porsche 935 used...
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Report includes 3 court-specific ideas

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Three recommendations made today by the Commission on Local Government Reform focus specifically on courts and the state's legal community.Court-specific recommendations impacting all Indiana counties include transferring the local court clerk responsibilities to the courts themselves and transferring trial court system funding - including probation and public defenders - to the state. A third recommendation is focused solely on Marion County, where all township small claims courts duties would be transferred to the county's Superior Courts.Headed by former Gov. Joe Kernan...
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