Courts

Justices: Indiana OK to dismiss jurisdiction

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In an Indiana custody case that started before a married couple's only child was born, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that either Indiana or the state where the child was born could have jurisdiction over proceedings. The Indiana trial court dismissed proceedings in favor of Washington State, where the child was born, as a more convenient forum, clearing the way for that state to take over jurisdiction. The issue in Anthony N. Stewart v. Signe L. (Stewart) Vulliet, No. 12S02-0708-CV-331, is whether...
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Suit against Vanderburgh County dismissed

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge in Indianapolis has dismissed a suit against Vanderburgh County that claimed county officials were responsible for a 2005 triple murder-suicide by an inmate on work release.On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a 13-page order dismissing the federal complaint Christine Sandage, et al. v. Board of Commissioners of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, et al. The suit stems from the deaths of Sheena Sandage-Shofner, Alfonzo Small, and Tara Jenkins, who were fatally shot almost three years ago by...
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High court grants, vacates transfers

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to a case regarding whether the Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund can introduce evidence of liability on an action seeking excess damages. The court also vacated a transfer in a case that involves an amendment to charging information that happened after the omnibus date. The court granted transfer to Jim Atterholt, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, as Administrator of theIndiana Patient's Compensation Fund v. Geneva Herbst, personal representative of the estate of Jeffrey A....
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High court to hear 3 arguments Thursday

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in three cases involving different issues - the cleanup of hazardous material, a defendant sentenced to death, and a child-custody dispute. In the arguments scheduled at 9 a.m., the justices will hear The Indiana Department of Environmental Management v. Raybestos Products Co., No. 49A02-0609-CV-782, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Marion Superior Court decision granting summary judgment for Raybestos on the issue of breach of contract against IDEM. Raybestos filed a...
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Court affirms dismissal of default judgment

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court finding that a mother had a valid excuse for not showing up to a child-support modification hearing because neither she nor her attorney received proper notice of the hearing. In Jason D. Bunch v. Katherine R. Himm, 64A04-0705-CV-262, Bunch and Himm divorced, leaving Bunch with physical custody of their two children. Himm moved from northern Indiana to South Carolina and joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves. Their divorce decree was finalized...
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Attorney, ex-appellate clerk dies suddenly

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A Fort Wayne and Indianapolis health-care law attorney who'd previously served as the governor's counsel and as state appellate clerk in the 1990s died suddenly Tuesday night.John Okeson, 43, died at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne after suffering from a short flu-like illness during the past week; he was admitted to the hospital late Sunday or Monday, according to his legal colleagues. The county coroner's office told media that Okeson had been sick and admitted to the hospital, where staff determined...
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Court: Attorney mistake 'inexcusable neglect'

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a woman's appeal following the denial of Social Security benefits because the woman's attorney failed to file the appeal in time under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.In Janet L. McCarty v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, No. 07-2104, Janet McCarty's application for disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income was denied by the Social Security Administration and an administrative law judge.She appealed to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of...
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State can't cross-appeal sentence under rule

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The state may not cross-appeal a sentence for an abuse of discretion or inappropriateness unless the defendant appeals his or her sentence in the appellant's brief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The issue of the state filing a cross-appeal of a sentence is a matter of first impression. In Steven McCullough v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0711-CR-931, Steven McCullough filed an appeal of his convictions of two counts of criminal confinement, battery, and the finding he was a habitual offender....
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Court: Nontestimonial statements allowed at trial

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Statements to police made by a woman who accused a defendant of hitting her should have been admissible during the defendant's trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled April 25.The appellate court determined statements made by Keyona Brooks, in which she said defendant Tracey Lamont Martin struck her in the face while they were fighting in the car before he drove off with her children, should have been considered nontestimonial, and thus admissible at trial.Brooks was not available to testify at Martin's trial...
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Court rules on 'nude in front yard' case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Though the front yard of your home may not be considered a "public place," state law prohibits you from standing there naked because that nudity would be visible from a public street or sidewalk, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.In Chad A. Weideman v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-0801-CR-51, a unanimous three-judge panel determined that Indiana's public nudity statute, Indiana Code Section 35-45-4-1.5(c), is not unconstitutionally vague, but the state failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that a Warrick County...
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SCOTUS quiet on money-laundering case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The nation's highest court hasn't yet ruled on an East Chicago case involving money laundering, but that could be because justices are waiting to hear a similar case before making a decision.Indianapolis attorney Todd Vare with Barnes & Thornburg argued before the Supreme Court of the United States Oct. 3, but so far the court hasn't issued a decision on U.S. v. Efrain Santos, No. 06-1005.Ten of the 14 cases argued that month have been ruled on, as well as other...
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UPDATE: SCOTUS limits pro se rights

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that a state 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 ruling 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. Justices remanded the case to Marion Superior Court...
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Deputy Allen County prosecutor dies

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A deputy Allen County prosecutor died suddenly March 16 after a short illness. John William Archer was 58. Archer, a lifelong Hoosier, was born in Hartford City and earned his bachelor's degree at Wabash College. He earned his J.D. at Valparaiso University School of Law. He spent 20 years in the Allen County Prosecutor's Office and served as section head of the misdemeanor court. Prior to that, he owned Ruby Red Hot Records, a reflection of his love of music. He is survived...
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Tax fraud lands attorney in prison

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
An Indianapolis personal injury lawyer will spend time in prison for committing tax fraud by underreporting his income.U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney of the Southern District's Indianapolis Division sentenced Robert E. Lehman to eight months in prison and six months of home detention after he pleaded guilty to making a false federal income tax return.Lehman filed false personal income tax returns with the IRS in 2002, 2003, and 2004, by understating his business income. When he paid his clients from...
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Update: Confirmation doesn't stop court business

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Business is going on as usual this morning for the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, despite a historic moment that's happened in the court.The U.S. Senate voted unanimously about 5 p.m. Thursday to confirm Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence as a federal judge, meaning he'll be the Southern District's first-ever magistrate to be elevated to the constitutionally established Article III judge status.Senators took a break from discussion on wiretapping to talk about judicial nominations, and held a roll-call vote...
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Marion County public defender arrested

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A Marion County public defender faces felony charges after being arrested Sunday following an undercover child sex sting by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.Ryan Snyder, 29, was arrested about noon on the south side of Indianapolis, according to a police report. He is accused of using the Internet to set up a meeting with a 15-year-old girl for sex, the report said. A detective posed as the teenager and arrested him, as well as another man during the weekend sting. Police...
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Jury: Ex-Ball State officer not liable in shooting

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal jury decided in less than three hours that a former Ball State University police officer isn't liable in the fatal shooting of a drunken, unarmed student four years ago.An eight-person jury returned Monday evening with a verdict in about 2 ½ hours, after hearing 10 days of arguments and testimony in the case of McKinney v. Robert Duplain in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Jurors determined that Duplain wasn't liable for Michael McKinney's death.More than 50 people - mostly...
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Transfer granted in cleanup liability case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Wednesday in a case involving environmental cleanup costs and which party would be liable to incur those costs. At issue in Dreaded Inc., v. St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co., et al., No. 49A02-0701-CV-78, is whether St. Paul is liable for environmental cleanup defense costs incurred prior to receiving notice of potential liability from Dreaded about an environmental claim. Dreaded received a claim letter in 2000 from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management demanding the company do...
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COA: Defendant had imperfect, yet fair trial

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Defendants are entitled to fair trials, not perfect ones, and the imperfections of one defendant's trial didn't deprive him of a fair trial, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court upheld the murder conviction of John Myers II, who was convicted two years ago of killing IU student Jill Behrman in 2000. Authoring Judge Cale Bradford wrote in the 44-page opinion, John R. Myers II v. State of Indiana, No. 55A05-0703-CR-148, the court acknowledges there were certain discrete imperfections at Myers'...
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Court split on non-compete geography

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Geography is the main sticking point that has split the Indiana Supreme Court on determining reasonableness of non-compete covenants as they relate to physicians and medical practices.With its 3-2 ruling March 11 in Central Indiana Podiatry v. Kenneth Krueger, Meridian Health Group PC, No. 29S05-0706-CV-256, the court held that employment contracts between doctors and medical practice groups don't absolutely go against public policy and are enforceable if written reasonably.But views on what's "geographically reasonable" in the latter part of the holding is what...
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COA: teacher within rights in striking student

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Relying on caselaw from the 19th century, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's decision to dismiss a battery charge against a teacher for striking a student in gym class. Judges Patricia Riley and Melissa May agreed with the trial court in State of Indiana v. Paula J. Fettig, No. 49A02-0709-CR-807, that gym teacher Fettig was protected from prosecution because state statute gives authority to school personnel to discipline students. Citing Indiana Code Sections 20-33-8-8(b) and 20-33-8-9, Judge Riley wrote...
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Appellate judges to visit Jeffersonville

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The three-judge panel of L. Mark Bailey, Cale Bradford, and Melissa May travel to southern Indiana to hear arguments before the Sherman Minton Inns of Court in Jeffersonville on April 9. The judges will hear the case Indiana Department of Natural Resources v. Lake George Cottagers Association, No.76A03-0708-CV-381, at 5:30 p.m. at the banquet hall Kye's I, 500 Missouri Ave., Jeffersonville. At issue is who owns the land beneath a dam - the state or the Cottagers Association - and who...
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COA: Husband not entitled to judgment relief

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order granting a husband relief from judgment because the order modified the parties' original property settlement, which wasn't allowed under Indiana Statute or Trial Rule 60(B). In Janet L. Dillard v. Donald S. Dillard, No. 36A01-0712-CV-606, Donald Dillard filed for divorce from his wife, Janet Dillard, in July 2006. The parties agreed in December 2006 to a property settlement, which stipulated the marital home would be sold and Donald would receive 25 percent...
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Appeals court in Valparaiso Monday

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Valparaiso Monday in a case involving an automobile accident and the statute of limitations to amend a complaint.The panel of Judges John Sharpnack, Nancy Vaidik, and Michael Barnes will be asked to decide in Tim Sinks v. Krista L. Caughey, 49A04-0709-CV-502, whether the trial court erred in denying Sinks' motion to dismiss and allowing Caughey to amend her complaint. Caughey was rear-ended by a pickup truck, and she relied on the information...
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Court decides Carmel mining case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
More than a year after hearing arguments in a Carmel mining-regulation case, the Indiana Supreme Court decided Thursday that municipalities can regulate mining and don't have to rely on a zoning process to do so.The unanimous decision came in City of Carmel v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., No. 29S04-0611-CV-469. Justice Frank Sullivan authored the ruling in Carmel's favor after considering the validity of a 2005 city ordinance exerting control over the 50-year-old mining operation by regulating issues such as the mine's hours...
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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