Courts

Aspiring attorneys general face off: Other campaigns get the spotlight, but this one deserves a closer look

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
With at least two very closely watched races in Indiana - governor and president - and multiple political theories about how either race will go, there's bound to be less attention paid to some of the other candidates. But with Republican Gregory Zoeller and Democrat Linda Pence up for the attorney general post and the incumbent Steve Carter not running, this race is worth another look. At stake is the oversight of the state attorney general's office, basically a very large...
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Federal judge won't overturn jury verdict

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Ruling on his first jury trial as a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen declined to overturn a jury verdict in favor of a fired East Chicago worker who'd claimed she lost her job for political reasons.In an eight-page ruling on Aug. 1 in Blanca I. Camacho v. George Pabey, et al., No. 2:05-cv-456, Judge Van Bokkelen ruled that a reasonable jury had evidence to find in favor of Camacho and award her $250,000.Camacho was a restaurant inspector when...
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Social Security doesn't go toward threshold

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Social Security benefits can't be counted toward the threshold amount of benefits that a person has to get in order to be eligible for benefits from Indiana's Second Injury Fund, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.The court tackled the issue of first impression in James Kohlmeyer v. Second Injury Fund, No. 93A02-0711-EX-1000, in which James Kohlmeyer argued Social Security benefits he received after becoming permanently totally disabled as a result of a work accident should count toward the threshold dictated under...
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Justices: Act doesn't allow interest

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Interest may not be calculated on workers' compensation benefits, including past-due medical bills, because Indiana legislation doesn't expressly allow for it, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. In Christopher R. Brown, D.D.S., Inc. v. Decatur County Memorial Hospital, No. 93S02-0711-EX-561, Dr. Christopher Brown appealed the decision by the full Workers' Compensation Board that he was not entitled to interest on past-due medical bills incurred from his treatment of a patient who was receiving workers' compensation benefits from Decatur County Memorial Hospital. Indiana's...
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COA mulls 'fraud' in paternity affidavit statute

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A man's paternity cannot be revoked three years after he and the child's mother fraudulently signed an affidavit establishing that he's the legal father, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.The court's unanimous ruling paves the way for a possible Indiana Supreme Court interpretation of this particular state statute, which this appellate panel believes was designed to protect a man's paternal rights in the event he was defrauded - not when he was the one doing the deception along with the...
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Lawyer suspended for conversion, lying

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court suspended a Vanderburgh County attorney today for at least three years for committing what the court describes as the most serious of ethical breaches.The court came to its decision In the matter of: Douglas W. Patterson, No. 82S00-0402-DI-90, as a result of Douglas Patterson's conversion of client funds, deceit in concealing his misconduct, and dishonesty with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.Patterson was an associate at a law firm which maintained a trust account. In 1999, Patterson and...
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Judges disagree on registration by homeless

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana Court of Appeals judges disagreed today in an opinion in which the majority ruled that a man who claimed he was temporarily homeless should be charged with violating the Indiana statute that requires registered sex offenders to provide their new address to authorities within seven days of a move. One judge dissented, saying their ruling would make homelessness a crime.Judges L. Mark Bailey and Ezra Friedlander affirmed Daniel J. Milliner's conviction for failing to register as a sex offender and...
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Head Start considered a school

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Teachers who work for a federally funded program to help children prepare for kindergarten are not eligible under Indiana statute for unemployment during summer breaks, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. In South Bend Community School Corporation v. Linda D. Lucas, No. 93A02-0705-EX-387, the majority of judges agreed with South Bend that Head Start institutions should be considered schools under Indiana statute and therefore, its teachers are not allowed to collect unemployment during the summer. Lucas works as a teacher at...
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License revocations stayed for now

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked the state from revoking driver's licenses that don't match Social Security records.The preliminary injunction came June 6 in a case challenging the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles' invalidations of licenses or identification cards on the sole basis of mismatched records.The decision comes in Lyn Leone, et al. v. Indiana BMV Commissioner, No. 49A02-0804-CV-00377, which is currently pending in the state's second highest appellate court and is at the briefing stage...
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State files suit against mortgage lender

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter has filed a lawsuit against mortgage lender Countrywide Home Loans Inc. for questionable practices, making Indiana the fifth state to take action against the largest lender in the country. The suit, No. 76C01-0808-PL-652, was mailed to Steuben Circuit Court Aug. 22 and filed the same day. The suit, which includes Countrywide's parent company, Countrywide Financial Corporation, alleges the company engaged in deceptive and misleading practices that put borrowers in potentially risky and costly loans. Carter's investigation...
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High court clarifies evidence designation

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant and also clarified the designation of evidence in regards to Indiana Trial Rule 56(C). In Idan (John) Filip and Valaria Filip v. Carrie Block and 1st Choice Insurance Agency, No. 75S05-0704-CV-149, the Filips filed a suit against Block and 1st Choice, alleging negligence in the selection of insurance on an apartment building they purchased in 1999. Block was the insurance agent of the previous owner,...
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Justices: 'Three Strikes Law' unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A four-year-old state statute aimed at limiting frivolous lawsuits filed by prison inmates is unconstitutional because it effectively closes the courthouse doors altogether for certain people, a split Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.Three of the five justices - Justices Theodore Boehm, Robert Rucker, and Brent Dickson - agreed that the state's 2004 "Three Strikes Law" violates the Indiana Constitution's Open Courts Clause. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan disagreed and observed their colleagues' decision means many Hoosier litigants...
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AG won't appeal sex-offender law ruling

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Office of Indiana Attorney General won't appeal a federal court's decision last month that ruled a law requiring sex offenders to allow for blanket consent of computer and home searches is unconstitutional. Instead of appealing, Attorney General Steve Carter said in a press release Thursday that the office will work with legislators this fall to create a law that will protect children from Internet predators but would not violate the Constitution. Carter also cited the cost to taxpayers as a...
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Judges: Dispute can be arbitrated

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A union and the owner of the facility the union wants to organize can proceed to arbitration to decide whether the facility is a covered workplace under an agreement requiring neutrality, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. In United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union v. TriMas Corporation, No. 07-1688, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) brought an action in federal...
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President chooses magistrate for judgeship

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
President George W. Bush has nominated an Indianapolis federal magistrate to replace Judge John D. Tinder who recently took a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.The president on Thursday sent a nomination to the Senate for Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence, who's been on the federal bench since November 2002. Magistrate Judge Lawrence was one of seven nominations sent, including nominations for the U.S. Tax Court. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar recommended the Indianapolis magistrate for the position."I have known...
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Court upholds damages award against doctor

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a damages award to the parents of a stillborn child against a doctor, finding the trial court properly excluded opinion testimony from two treating doctors and a letter written to those doctors before the trial by the parents' attorney. In Jeffrey L. Cain, M.D. v. Richard Back and Suzette Back, No. 20A03-0705-CV-225, Dr. Jeffrey L. Cain appealed the trial court judgment of $800,000 in damages to Richard and Suzette Back on their claim of medical malpractice.The...
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Application of residency law unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
  The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's ruling that in at least one case of the state's application of a law prohibiting violent and child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or public area where children congregate is unconstitutional.The ruling came in State of Indiana v. Anthony W. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640. Judges heard arguments in the case March 31. The state argued that Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 was not considered ex post facto...
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Indiana's e-ticket system nationally recognized

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court's e-ticket system has won an honorable mention in the 2008 Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards given by the Center for Digital Government. The court's electronic Citation and Warning System (eCWS) was honored in the Government-to-Government category. Winners were recognized for the strides they have made to implement better access and more efficient Web delivery of public services.The e-ticketing program allows law enforcement to use hand-held devices to scan a bar code on driver's...
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COA arguments set for IU student's killer

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments Thursday in the case of the man convicted of killing an Indiana University student. John R. Myers II appeals his conviction of the murder of Jill Behrman, claiming the trial court committed several errors including denying his motion for a change of venue, denying his motions in limine to exclude testimony of certain witnesses, admitting an interrogation tape without proper admonition to the jury, and denying his motion for a mistrial due to...
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Plea can't be challenged with new evidence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In a case of first impression, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled a guilty plea can't be challenged in post-conviction proceedings by a claim of newly discovered evidence regarding the events making up the crime. In Shawn E. Norris v. State of Indiana, No. 43S03-0807-CR-379, Shawn Norris appealed the post-conviction court's grant of the state's motion for summary disposition on Norris' petition for post-conviction relief. Norris pleaded guilty four years earlier to molesting his sister's child, served his sentence, and then later...
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Former Marion Superior judge dies

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A former Marion Superior Court judge and longtime executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council died April 5 at his home after a long illness.Hon. Richard P. Good Jr., 76, was appointed by Gov. Frank O'Bannon in 1997 to Marion Superior Court, where he served in the Criminal Division. During his time on the bench, he was chosen by his peers to serve on the executive committee. After leaving the bench in 2002, he took on temporary assignments as presiding...
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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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