Courts

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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Court: business license fee not a tax

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The Indiana Court of Appeals today affirmed summary judgment for the city of Hammond, where an attorney who practices law there contested an ordinance that would charge a fee to have a business license. The lawyer claimed the fee was tantamount to a tax.In the opinion, David Paul Allen v. City of Hammond, 45A03-0708-CV-372, it states that on July 28, 2005, Allen filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against the city to invalidate the ordinance requiring businesses to have a license....
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Breaking: Court suspends Marion Superior judge

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins from the bench until the court is able to decide his final penalty resulting from a disciplinary action against him.Justices issued an order this afternoon suspending Judge Hawkins with pay, effective today. A second order appoints Indianapolis attorney James Osborn as judge pro tempore until justices issue a final resolution. Osborn was elected this year as a new Marion Superior judge and is slated to take the bench in January.This is the...
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UPDATE: Senate acting on magistrate's confirmation

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Senate is about to vote on whether a federal magistrate in Indianapolis will be elevated to a constitutionally established judgeship. The senators started to voted after 4:30 p.m. Around 4:15 p.m. the senators started discussing the nominees in executive session. The session can last up to an hour, after which they will come back for a public confirmation vote. Just before 4 p.m., the U.S. Senate took a break from discussion on wiretapping to move on judicial nominations. A unanimous confirmation appeared on...
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Investigation goes beyond one case of delay

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Harold D. Buntin is a focal point of the judicial misconduct investigation into a Marion Superior Court judge and his part-time commissioner, but the Indianapolis man could be just the tip of the iceberg for what's been happening in that criminal court.The nearly dozen charges brought separately Wednesday against Marion Superior Judge Grant W. Hawkins and Master Commissioner Nancy L. Broyles, both assigned to Criminal Court 5 since January 2001, not only deal with a single case of possible wrongdoing but...
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Courthouse construction to begin in summer

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Construction is set to begin this summer on the new federal courthouse in Terre Haute. The project is expected to be complete by summer 2009. The new courthouse will have 14,000 square feet of rentable space and will house the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District, clerks' offices for both courts, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District, U.S. Probation Office, and U.S. Marshals Service. U.S. General Services Administration spokesperson David...
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Marion County senior judge dies

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A former Marion Superior judge and deputy prosecutor died May 2 after a long battle with cancer. Judge John R. "Jack" Barney Jr., 73, also served as a senior judge for Marion Circuit and Superior courts.Judge Barney, an Indianapolis native, earned his law degree from Indiana University School of Law in 1962 and joined his father's law firm, Barney & Hughes, after graduation. He practiced at the firm, which later became Barney & Barney, until 1984. Judge Barney was a Marion...
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Commission publicly admonishes Circuit judge

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A Carroll Circuit judge received a public admonition from the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications today in lieu of filing formal disciplinary proceedings. Hon. Donald Currie was arrested in December 2007 for public intoxication after a police officer saw the judge outside of his car near Interstate 65 in Boone County. The judge pleaded guilty to the Class B misdemeanor in Boone Circuit Court and is currently serving a one-year probationary sentence in Boone County. According to the public admonition, both...
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COA: Rescue doctrine applies to injured man

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In an issue that hasn't been decided by Indiana courts, the Court of Appeals ruled that the "rescue doctrine" applies to people who are injured after stopping to help direct traffic after a car accident or other traffic issue. There is no clear answer in Indiana caselaw or other jurisdictions as to whether someone who helps direct traffic is considered a "rescuer" entitled to a rescue doctrine jury instruction, wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Star Transport, Inc. and Jeffrey Cottingham v. Hervey...
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COA: OK counsel didn't raise Blakely claim

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A defendant's appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to raise a Blakely claim on appeal because raising the issue was outside his counsel's objective prevailing professional norms at the time, ruled a majority of an Indiana Court of Appeals panel today. However, the dissenting judge cited numerous examples of other counsel amending appeals with a Blakely claim during the same time period. In Steven Kendall v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-0707-PC-391, Kendall appealed the denial of his post-conviction relief petition by...
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COA: Animal seizure allowed without warrant

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Police and animal control officers were justified in removing malnourished animals from a property without a warrant, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals today. The court also overturned a Bartholomew County man's convictions of neglect on four dead horses because of lack of evidence they died of neglect.In Terry Baxter v. State of Indiana, No. 03A04-0710-CR-596, Terry Baxter appealed his convictions of four counts of Class D felony failure to properly dispose of a dead animal, and 12 counts of Class...
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Southern District Court seeking comments

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana wants to hear from you. The court is seeking public comment on the revision of certain local rules. The proposed revisions look to modify Local Rule 5.1 - general format of documents presented for filing, Local Rule 6.1 - extensions of time, and Local Rule 56.1 - summary judgment procedure. Changes have also been made regarding the discipline imposed by other courts, reinstatement, and the service of papers and other notices.The...
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  1. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  2. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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