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Judge penalizes no-show juror

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A Lake County criminal court judge took a former juror to task Tuesday for skipping jury duty during a murder trial this spring.Superior Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. found a 20-year-old Cedar Lake resident in contempt of court and sentenced him to three hours in the county jail, as well as ordering him to carry a 24-inch by 24-inch sign saying "I failed to appear for jury duty" from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Monday outside the Crown Point courthouse.That will be a warning...
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Courts can review public school financing

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Hoosier courts have the authority to review the state's school financing formula to determine whether Indiana is meeting a constitutional requirement to provide a quality public education for all students, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled May 2.A 2-1 ruling from the COA revives the public education financing case of Joseph Bonner, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., No. 49A02-0702-CV-188, which presents an issue of first impression. Nine public school students and their families from eight different school systems throughout the...
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Justices find ineffective assistance in case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has determined an appellate attorney rendered ineffective assistance in an Evansville kidnapping case that resulted in a police dog being fatally shot 10 years ago.A unanimous court ruled Feb. 27 in Antwain Henley v. State of Indiana, No. 82S05-0701-PC-31, which comes from a Vanderburgh County case at the post-conviction relief stage involving a pro se litigant. The Court of Appeals panel issued a ruling in October 2006, reversing and holding in favor of the defendant Henley, and remanding for a new...
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Court: delayed rape conviction OK

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's rape conviction, finding his due process rights weren't violated when charges were filed in 2005 for a rape that happened nearly 25 years earlier. In Thomas N. Schiro v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-0701-CR-21, Thomas Schiro appealed his conviction of felony rape, arguing the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the charges brought against him in 2005 for two rapes that occurred in 1980 and by admitting his written sexual...
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Hearing set in Lake County early-voting case

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Special Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider has set a hearing for the consolidated Lake Circuit Court and Lake Superior Court cases involving early-voting sites, according to Indiana Supreme Court spokesperson Kathryn Dolan. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. CDT Oct. 20 in Courtroom 1, 232 Russell St., Hammond. The Indiana Supreme Court appointed Lake Superior Judge Schneider as special judge Thursday to resolve the dispute between the Lake County courts as to whether satellite early-voting sites should be allowed to be...
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Convict fights tooth and nail, loses on the tooth

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A tooth is considered a "bodily member or organ" within the definition of the state's aggravated battery statute, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled March 7.Deciding a case of first impression in Derrick C. Smith v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-0708-CR-357, the appellate court ruled that a Lake Superior judge properly determined that enough evidence existed to support Smith's conviction under the state's aggravated battery statute.Incarcerated at the Lake County Jail in August 2006, Smith and another inmate overpowered a jail...
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Court decides 2 disputed land cases

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on two cases today involving disputed tracts of land on lakefront properties and adverse possession in Kosciusko County. In Daisy Farm Limited Partnership v. Michael and Jill Morrolf, No. 43A04-0707-CV-390, the appellate court reversed the trial court judgment in favor of Michael and Jill Morrolf that a disputed tract of land didn't pass to Daisy Farm by virtue of adverse possession. Daisy Farm and its predecessors owned the lot adjoining the Morrolfs' in a neighborhood located...
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Plan: protect educators who discipline students

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants more legal protection for educators who discipline students to keep order in their schools.A news release issued this morning announced the governor's plans to work with lawmakers in the coming legislative session to pass a law providing legal immunity for those teachers and school staff members who, in good faith, discipline students. He also wants the Indiana Attorney General's Office to use its statutory authority to defend any teacher who becomes the target of unreasonable litigation.The...
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Court: Official can take office once bonded

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Elected public officials who haven't secured bond by the date they are to take office can begin their elected position once they have obtained the bond, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.At issue in Tom Shetler Sr. and Suzan Nicholson v. Linda K. Durham, No. 82A01-0706-CV-273, is whether Durham can hold office as elected trustee of Knight Township even though she failed to secure bond by her official start date. Durham was elected trustee in November 2006 and met with the incumbent...
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Marion County inspector training at IBA

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Marion County Clerk's office will hold an inspector training session at the Indianapolis Bar Association April 21 for people interested in becoming an inspector, precinct clerk, or precinct judge for the May 6 primary. Marion County Clerk Beth White will conduct the training session from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the IBA's office, 107 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 200, Indianapolis. The training session offers three free hours of CLE credit for any attorney who has signed up to be an...
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Magistrate named for Southern District

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
An Indianapolis attorney is the new magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana.Debra McVicker Lynch, of counsel at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, fills the position left empty after Judge William T. Lawrence was elevated to Article III judgeship July 1. Lynch said she is elated and honored that the court expressed its confidence in her to select her as magistrate judge. Although she has enjoyed her time in private practice, she said she's aspired to be a...
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Notre Dame Law receives $15 million gift

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Notre Dame Law School building will get a new name as a result of an alumnus who has donated $15 million to the school.Robert F. Biolchini, and his wife, Frances, donated the money to the school to help underwrite the renovation of the building. After renovations are finished, the building will be renamed Biolchini Hall. Renovations include an expanded Krege Law Library, two new 50-seat classrooms, new space for the Notre Dame Law Review, and new offices and workspace for...
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Court can determine when defendant testifies

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Defendants have the constitutional right to testify at trial, but they do not have the right to dictate when they take the stand, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 25.At issue in Kevin Book v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-0707-CR-385, is whether the trial court violated Book's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights when he was allegedly compelled to make a decision whether to testify at a particular time during his trial. Book was accused of smothering to death his girlfriend's 20-month-old...
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ISBA receives more artwork of courthouses

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
Three more donations of artwork depicting Indiana courthouses have been received by the Indiana State Bar Association: the bar associations of Daviess, Lake, and Sullivan counties have donated images of their respective county courthouses. Photos are now on Indiana Lawyer's Web site as part of a slideshow of all 12 works the ISBA has received so far.The ISBA acquired the artwork of Daviess County Courthouse by Ervin R. Clark June 26; it was donated by the Daviess County Bar Association. The painting...
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Comments sought on child support rules

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana is seeking public comment concerning Indiana's Child Support Rules and Guidelines as part of its review process to propose changes to the Indiana Supreme Court. Written comments are due July 3 and may be submitted by an online survey, by fax to (317) 233-3367, or by mail to Indiana Judicial Center c/o the Domestic Relations Committee, 30 S. Meridian St., Suite 900, Indianapolis, IN 46204-3564. A public hearing will be conducted...
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BMV tosses personalized license plate policy

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
 A federal lawsuit involving the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and how it handles personalized license plates may be settled in the next week, now that the state agency has thrown out the revised policy banning all religious or deity phrases. BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver reversed a policy decision Nov. 25 that had taken effect Nov. 6 banning any requested personalized plate message carrying a religious or deity message. Now, an eight-person internal committee will review all requested messages the way...
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Attorney blamed for lack of proper relief

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the U.S. District Court in Hammond in which two plaintiffs were injured by a drunk driver and then awarded less-than-adequate relief from a jury, agreeing that any proper relief denied to the plaintiffs was a result of their attorney.In Christina Soltys and Danuta Pauch v. Yvonne Costello, No. 06-3175, the 7th Circuit affirmed the District Court didn't err in denying the plaintiffs' eleventh-hour motion to amend their complaint to add a count...
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Lake County releases judicial candidate survey

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Lake County Bar Association has released the results of its 2008 Judicial Qualification Survey of judicial candidates in Lake County. Candidates were rated on a scale from 1 to 10 in the candidate's competence, temperament, and character, with one being not qualified and 10 being exceptionally well qualified. A total of 265 responses were received; the amount of responses varied for each candidate. According to the survey, two Lake Superior magistrate judges scored the highest: Magistrate Judge Michael Pagano had...
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Five appellate jurists will be on ballot

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Michael W. Hoskins mhoskins@IBJ.com All of Indiana's appellate jurists facing retention this year will appear on November's ballot. Facing a Tuesday deadline to file retention paperwork, the five jurists have told Indiana Lawyer they hope to return to either the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Tax Court. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, Justices Theodore M. Boehm and Brent E. Dickson, Court of Appeals Judge Carr Darden, and Tax Court Judge Thomas G. Fisher are up for retention. Late last week,...
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Governor appoints new Delaware Circuit judge

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Gov. Mitch Daniels has appointed attorney Chris M. Teagle as judge of Delaware Circuit Court No. 5. Teagle succeeds Judge Wayne J. Lennington, who turned in his resignation from the bench earlier this year.Teagle, of Albany, has served in private practice in Muncie since 1985 and has had his own civil law practice since 1993. The Valparaiso University School of Law graduate will start May 16. Judge Lennington sent his resignation letter to the governor in March citing health reasons. An...
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Court upholds murder conviction

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a Brown County man's murder conviction, finding there was sufficient evidence to show he killed his wife in 2003. The man, Michael B. Smith, appealed his conviction, arguing evidence was admitted in violation of Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b) and that it was insufficient to support his conviction. Smith was found guilty of killing his wife Linda, whom he claimed he found alone in their hot tub after he fell asleep earlier in the evening. In...
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IBA seeks nominations for award

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indianapolis Bar Association's Women and the Law Division is seeking nominations for its 2008 Antoinette Dakin Leach Award. July 31 is the deadline to submit nominations. The Antoinette Dakin Leach Award recognizes a female attorney for her professional and personal accomplishments. Nominees should be those who encourage other women to pursue a legal career or blaze a path not taken by others. Nominees will be evaluated on their accomplishments, service, mentoring, and professionalism. They will be honored at a luncheon this fall....
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Senate Judiciary OKs magistrate for judge

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
U.S. Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence in Indianapolis has just won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning to become a federal district judge.At the end of its 10 a.m. business meeting that concluded just before 10:30 a.m., the committee voted 10-0 in favor of Magistrate Lawrence's nomination for a judgeship in the Southern District of Indiana. His confirmation hearing was May 2.Now, Magistrate Lawrence awaits confirmation from the full Senate. The president had selected him in February to...
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7th Circuit: traffic stop constitutional

December 28, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
A traffic stop in which police found drugs after telling the defendant he was free to go did not violate the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, ruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today.
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7th Circuit upholds convictionRestricted Content

December 26, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's conviction and sentence for selling a firearm to a felon, ruling the wording of his indictment did not require the government to prove he knew about the gun buyer's past convictions
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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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