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SCOTUS denies Evansville death penalty case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The nation's highest court won't review the case of an Evansville death row inmate who'd questioned the requirement he wear a stun belt during his eight-month capital trial for murdering three people in 1996.In a list of certiorari denials released today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it wouldn't review John Stephenson v. Indiana, No. 07-8237. He'd filed a petition for review in December, and justices decided at a private conference April 11 not to take the case.The denial...
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COA: Court lacked personal jurisdiction

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's denial of a biological mother's motion to set aside an adoption decree because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her due process rights were violated. In In the matter of the adoption of D.C.; H.R. v. R.C., No. 22A01-0709-CV-425, the appellate court ruled the adoptive mother, R.C., did not do everything she could to contact H.R., the biological mother, about R.C.'s petition to adopt D.C. R.C., who married D.C.'s biological father,...
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Judge grants injunction for judicial candidates

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the time being, Hoosier judicial candidates can't be sanctioned for answering a questionnaire about their views because of a federal judge's decision today.U.S. District Judge Theresa L. Springmann in Fort Wayne issued a preliminary injunction earlier this afternoon, stopping Indiana from enforcing rules that prohibit judicial candidates from responding to surveys on their views.The 36-page order came in Torrey Bauer et. al. v. Randall T. Shepard et al., No. 3:08-CV-196-TLS. The non-profit Indiana Right to Life Committee filed the suit...
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IBF seeks nominations, scholarship applicants

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Bar Foundation is seeking nominations for several pro bono awards and applicants for its scholarship for new attorneys to attend the Indiana State Bar Association's annual fall meeting. The Randall T. Shepard Award recognizes an individual's commitment and contributions to the pro bono movement in Indiana. The Pro Bono Publico Award highlights contributions made by volunteer attorneys to assist Hoosiers' access the justice system. The IBF also recognizes lawyers, law firms, and bar associations for excellence in providing information...
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COA cuts sentence for drug convictions

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's drug convictions, but found the trial court erred in sentencing him. As a result, the appellate court reduced his sentence by 33 years. In Gary L. Williams Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 39A04-0708-CR-481, Williams appealed his convictions of and his 73-year sentence for dealing in cocaine, and possession of cocaine and marijuana. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Williams' convictions on two counts of dealing in cocaine as Class A felonies, possession of...
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Sexual misconduct case gets transfer

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday in a case involving the liability of a township trustee for sexual misconduct of her employee. In Debra A. Barnett v. Camille Clark, Trustee of Pleasant Township, No. 76A03-0704-CV-182, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of Camille Clark, who is also referred to as Camelia in the brief.Clark's husband, Donald, was the deputy township trustee. Debra Barnett went to the trustee's office and met with Donald...
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SCOTUS limits pro se rights

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that states may require a criminal defendant who suffers from a mental illness to have a lawyer rather than allowing that person to act as his or her own defense counsel, even when the individual is competent to be tried.Vacating an Indiana Supreme Court decision from more than a year ago, the nation's highest court today issued its 7-2 ruling in Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, holding that states can restrict pro se representation...
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Court: Company not negligent in trust demise

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a magistrate judge's ruling in favor of a Michigan company on claims that it was negligent in managing an Indiana trust that eventually collapsed. Magistrate Judge John Paul Godich, of the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana's Indianapolis Division, granted summary judgment in favor of Benefit Actuaries on Indiana Funeral Directors Insurance Trust's claims that Benefit violated its fiduciary duty under ERISA, and negligently failed to provide competent advice while managing the trust.The...
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Leave act specific to alcoholism treatment

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana man sued his former employer for firing him on grounds that he missed too much work, arguing that he was covered by the federal medical leave act because he was getting treatment for alcoholism.But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined today that the Family and Medical Leave Act doesn't protect workers from being dismissed. Because he missed three days of work just prior to being admitted for alcoholism treatment and that time combined with previous absences was enough...
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COA: Duty to defend not triggered

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Frustrated with the parties involved in the litigation, the Indiana Court of Appeals April 17 reversed a trial court's ruling in a case involving public-access laws, fraud, and an insurer's duty to defend.In Allianz Insurance Company, et al. v. Guidant Corporation, et al., No. 49A05-0704-CV-216, Chief Judge John Baker wrote the unanimous opinion regarding the "monstrosity of a litigation that has crossed state lines" is a straightforward dispute about when and whether an insurer's duty to defend had been triggered. The judge cited the...
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High court names public information officer

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A former television journalist is the new public information officer for the Indiana Supreme Court. Kathryn Dolan, former morning news anchor at WLFI in Lafayette, was hired in an effort to continue promoting public awareness about the Supreme Court.Dolan will work to help better inform citizens about how the court works and the impact of its decisions, and will also encourage media coverage of the Supreme Court. Dolan, a New Mexico native, started in the position June 30.She takes over a...
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Trial Rule submission deadline extended

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The deadline for clerks to submit an Indiana Trial Rule 77(k) request to post court information on the Internet has been extended to Feb. 29. The original deadline was Feb. 15. A complete list of counties approved to post court records can be found on the state's judiciary Web site. Clerks, with the consent of the majority of the judges in the courts of record, may make certain court records available to the public through remote electronic access, such as the Internet....
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Lawyer sentenced for battery, confinement

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana attorney convicted of sexual battery, criminal confinement and interference with reporting of a crime was sentenced March 6 in Porter Circuit Court. Michael Haughee had been found guilty of assaulting a woman in a wheelchair. Haughee received a concurrent sentence on all three counts of one year in jail and one year supervised probation. The Griffith attorney wasn't immediately taken into custody because Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper agreed to consider whether to stay his jail sentence pending an appeal, said Porter...
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Homelessness topic of ACLU panel March 5

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
"Homelessness in Indianapolis: Whose problem is it?" is the subject of the next First Wednesday event, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, at noon to 12:50 p.m., March 5, at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis (directions: http://www.indianahistory.org/visit/directions.html).The discussion will feature panelists Eric Howard, who in 1996 founded Outreach Inc. to serve homeless and at-risk youth in Indianapolis; Charles Haenlein, president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation; and Carter Wolf,...
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Counties, courts recover from flooding

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner rushed to his downtown Franklin office on Saturday to save computers and files from floodwater.At first, water was about an inch high. Within an hour, the floodwater had creeped higher - he was being shocked while trying to salvage computers. The water suddenly reached 4 feet, making the prosecutor's office look more like an aquarium than an office. Rushing floodwater rose even higher, crushing doors shut, trapping him inside so that he couldn't even escape through...
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National Crime Victims' Rights Week events

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
To observe National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which kicked off April 13 and lasts through April 19, many communities in Indiana have organized events to recognize crime victims, survivors, and the service providers who come to their aid.Some events around the state include:Victim Assistance Candlelight Vigil, 5:30 p.m. today at the Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne. The event is sponsored by Fort Wayne Police Department Victim Assistance. Understanding & Investing in Children Trapped in Domestic Violence, 8...
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Restitution can't include security system costs

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State statute doesn't allow trial courts to order restitution to pay for installation of a security system in victims' homes, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.Ruling on Keith Elton Rich v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0712-CR-687, the appellate court reversed Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Thomas Busch's restitution order issued in October 2007. Rich had pleaded guilty to burglary and marijuana possession and received a 14-year sentence that was partially suspended to probation. As a condition of probation, he also was ordered to...
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Kazakhstan group visits Marion County courts

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A group of about two dozen public administrators from Kazakhstan are in Indianapolis today learning about the state and local courts systems. The group visited the Marion County courts this afternoon.Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of Marion Superior Court welcomed them and gave an introduction about Marion County courts. She discussed the election process and the day-to-day work of a judge. After learning about our judicial system, the group toured several courtrooms and watched a jury trial, said Marion County Court Administrator Glenn...
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Court: evidence doesn't support sentence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court threw out a life-without-parole sentence for felony murder because there wasn't proof the killing was "intentional," as state law requires for that penalty.In Hobert Alan Pittman v. State of Indiana, No. 31S00-0610-CR-355, Hobert Alan Pittman appealed his convictions and sentence of two consecutive life sentences for murdering his father and stepgrandmother, as well as a 73-year sentence for convictions of attempted murder, theft, auto theft, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Pittman's stepmother, Linda, and stepgrandmother, Myrtle, were returning...
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Judges: Evidence proves scienter in fraud case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld fines against two men convicted of defrauding investors, finding a reasonable jury would have found them guilty of scienter even though the defendants didn't take the stand. In Thursday's ruling in United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Melvin R. Lyttle and Paul E. Knight, Nos. 07-2466, 07-2467, Melvin Lyttle and Paul Knight appealed the $110,000 fines each got following a grant of summary judgment in favor of the SEC on a variety of...
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Justices affirm sentence in child torture case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court today affirmed a trial court's sentence of life without parole for a Lafayette mother who had pleaded guilty to torturing and killing her stepdaughter.In Michelle Gauvin v. State of Indiana, No. 79S00-0702-CR-65, the state's highest court ruled 4-1 in a direct appeal that Tippecanoe Superior Judge Thomas Busch correctly sentenced the Lafayette mother for murder, confinement, and neglect of her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Aiyana. The girl died from head trauma in March 2005 after months...
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Hammond to host appeals court arguments

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels to Hammond April 7 to hear arguments in a case involving a dispute after the sale of real estate. Arguments begin at 10 a.m. CST in the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division No. 1 Courtroom, 232 Russell St., Hammond. In the case, Gladys E. Tobias v. Margaret and Thomas Mannella, No. 45A03-0708-CV-373, on appeal from Lake Superior Court, Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Margret Robb are asked to decide whether the trial court erred...
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Lawyers to debate police department control

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Marion County prosecutor's radio show, "Crime Beat," Sunday will address the current concern about whether Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who took office earlier this month, or Sheriff Frank Anderson should directly manage the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.Anderson has overseen the IMPD since the merger of the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Indianapolis Police Department Jan. 1, 2007, following an ordinance of the city-county council. Ballard has expressed the possibility of management of the police department going to the mayor...
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Applicants sought for $90,000 in grant funds

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The Heartland Pro Bono Council, which serves Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby counties in central Indiana, received a cy pres award of more than $65,000 late last year and the organization is looking to distribute the money in the upcoming months. That amount, along with other funds the HPBC has received in cy pres monies in recent years - totaling $90,000 - will be given in one grant or multiple grants sometime after June 5, 2008.Heartland is...
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Judge takes on death penalty decision

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
In the week ahead, an Evansville judge could be the first Hoosier jurist to hand down a death sentence since state law changed in 2002. Vanderburgh Circuit Judge Carl Heldt is scheduled to conduct a sentencing hearing Friday morning for Daniel Ray Wilkes, who jurors convicted last month on three counts of murder for the April 2006 slayings of an Evansville mother and her two daughters, ages 13 and 8.While they agreed on the guilt phase of the trial, jurors came...
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  1. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  2. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  3. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

  4. Well, I agree with you that the people need to wake up and see what our judges and politicians have done to our rights and freedoms. This DNA loophole in the statute of limitations is clearly unconstitutional. Why should dna evidence be treated different than video tape evidence for example. So if you commit a crime and they catch you on tape or if you confess or leave prints behind: they only have five years to bring their case. However, if dna identifies someone they can still bring a case even fifty-years later. where is the common sense and reason. Members of congress are corrupt fools. They should all be kicked out of office and replaced by people who respect the constitution.

  5. If the AG could pick and choose which state statutes he defended from Constitutional challenge, wouldn't that make him more powerful than the Guv and General Assembly? In other words, the AG should have no choice in defending laws. He should defend all of them. If its a bad law, blame the General Assembly who presumably passed it with a majority (not the government lawyer). Also, why has there been no write up on the actual legislators who passed the law defining marriage? For all the fuss Democrats have made, it would be interesting to know if some Democrats voted in favor of it (or if some Republican's voted against it). Have a nice day.

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