Courts

Commission studies mental illness, death penalty

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana could be the first state to bar the mentally ill from being executed, two recognized legal experts told a legislative commission Friday.Of course, doing so would mean first agreeing on a definition for what "mentally ill" entails.That was the topic discussed during the first legislative meeting of the Bowser Commission, the legislative interim study committee designed to study mental illness as it relates to the death penalty. The group was formed in recognition of the late Sen. Anita Bowser, D-Michigan...
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Indiana's GAL/CASA program receives $49,000

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A national grant will help pay for an Indiana Supreme Court program serving neglected and abused children whose families are in the court system.The state's highest court announced Wednesday that the Guardian Ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocate (GAL/CASA) Program is receiving $49,000 from the National CASA Association.Formed in 1990, the state court's program was the first in the nation last year to be certified for meeting standards. It also offers training and support for about 65 counties across the state -...
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Misconduct not inappropriate enough to alter trial outcome

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A prosecutor ;s request to call opposing defense counsel to the stand during a Pike County trial may have been inappropriate, but the Indiana Court of Appeals has determined it didn ;t rise to the level of misconduct that would have impacted the outcome.The appellate panel issued its decision today in Joshua J. Nolan v. State, which stems from a 2005 case leading to Nolan ;s conviction for criminal deviate conduct and residential entry. He raised three issues on appeal, but...
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High court rules on estate issue

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled on a matter of first impression today regarding the disposition of an entire estate during life or death. In the Matter of the Guardianship of E.N., Adult,No. 88S01-0703-CV-121, deals with the issue of whether the guardianship estate planning statute authorizes dispositions of a protected person's entire estate, not just "excess" assets, as defined in the statute. In this case, E.N. married and had two children - Shirley and Marvin. He executed a will in 1983 and...
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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in three cases - David Michael Green v. State of Indiana; Beth Palmer Kopczynski and Alisha Palmer v. David B. and Peggy L. Barger; and Richard U. and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, et al. In Green v. State, 45A05-0612-CR-708, Green appealed his conviction and sentence for two counts of felony murder, claiming his victim's death was out of self-defense and an accident. The Court of Appeals affirmed the state presented sufficient evidence to...
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Court to hear Carmel annexation arguments

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals hears arguments Tuesday in the second Carmel annexation case in the state's appellate courts in a year.Arguments begin at 1 p.m. in City of Carmel v. Certain Home Place Annexation Territory Landowners, 29A04-0510-CV-578.The court had planned to consider the case a year ago, but delayed arguments until the Indiana Supreme Court could make a decision on a similar case also stemming from Carmel. That happened June 27 with the potentially landmark decision in City of Carmel,...
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Circuit Court rules against deputy town marshal

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A Fort Wayne couple will get their day in court after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined the Orland deputy town marshal violated the couple's constitutional rights during an altercation at a towing lot three years ago.In Ryan L. Belcher and Daraina Gleason v. Vaughn Norton and Town of Orland, the court ruled 2-1 Wednesday that the case shouldn't have been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Theresa Springmann in Fort Wayne. The district judge had ruled that Norton, the town's deputy...
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Homeowners must follow health codes

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
Owners of houses or mobile homes they construct themselves still must follow Indiana health codes, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The appellate court overturned a trial court's ruling that a section of Indiana code exempted certain homeowners from obtaining a permit for septic systems. At issue in Washington County Health Department and Mike Haddon v. Jeff and Robin White, No. 88A04-0703-CV-126, is whether the Whites' mobile home, which had a discharge pipe running from the bottom of it to the...
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School board to settle with superintendent

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Parties have reached a tentative agreement in a case involving the firing of a Perry Township Schools superintendent, meaning a broader legal question arising from the possible appeal of a federal judge's June ruling likely will have to wait for another day.Specifically, the issue would be the legal scope of a superintendent's employment.The question arises in the case of embattled superintendent H. Douglas Williams, who was placed on paid indefinite administrative leave in November after a 4-3 vote by the school...
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Home Place plans to appeal ruling

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The annexation battle between Carmel and Home Place isn't over yet.Residents in the unincorporated community voted Saturday to appeal the Oct. 17 decision in City of Carmel v. Certain Home Place Annexation Territory Landowners, No. 29A04-0510-CV-578.Attorney Stephen Buschmann plans to file a petition this week asking the Indiana Supreme Court to hear the appeal. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Carmel last month, holding the city adequately proved it could afford to annex part of the nearby community and...
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SCOTUS rules on patent obviousness

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States today ruled that an invention can be too obvious for a patent.Taking up the patent issue and question of "How obvious is too obvious?" for the first time in 20 years, the court ruled unanimously in KSR International v. Teleflex that a gas pedal design was too obvious.Engineering company Teleflex sued KSR International, a Canadian maker of gas pedals, for alleged infringement of a patent it owned on an adjustable gas pedal assembly (which...
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COA reverses annexation decision

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision in a northern Indiana annexation case, citing a recent ruling on the subject from the Indiana Supreme Court. In the case In the Matter of the Annexation Proposed by Ordinance No. 2004-11-38, et al. v. Chris Fetcko, et al., 45A03-0611-CV-549, the city of Crown Point appealed the trial court's order granting the motion for involuntary dismissal filed by Fetcko and other remonstrators to a city ordinance annexing certain land. Crown Point...
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Dubious people no threat at federal courthouse in Indianapolis

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Suspicious camouflage-clad characters were thought to be creeping on the roof of the federal courthouse in Indianapolis this morning.But a report about 9 a.m. to the U.S. Marshals Office in Indianapolis turned out to be "completely unfounded," according to senior inspector Mark Robinett.Rather than a viable security threat, though, the call from the Chase building across the street turned out to involve window washers, according to accounts from both Robinett and Jo McNight, chief deputy clerk at the U.S. District Court...
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SCOTUS to hear East Chicago case in October

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The court docket for the nation's highest court is published, and the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in an East Chicago case during the first week it returns in October.Justices will consider U.S. v. Efrain Santos as its sixth case of the term on Oct. 3, according to the session calendar. It will be the first Indiana case heard by the high court since the Hammond v. Indiana arguments in March 2006. The court agreed in April...
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State waited too long to file charges, court rules

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a voluntary manslaughter case on grounds that prosecutors waited too long to file charges.Appellate judges issued a decision today in Ralph Barnett v. State of Indiana, 48A02-0605-CR-389 which stems from a 1993 physical confrontation at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Barnett got into fight with fellow inmate Ricky Combs after being released from cells for a creation session, and Barnett maneuvered a handmade pick away from Combs before starting to walk away. When Combs attacked...
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Carmel met requirements for Southwest Clay annexation

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
The Indiana Supreme Court today found for the City of Carmel in a case regarding landowners who opposed annexation of their property in Southwest Clay Township following a settlement between the city and an organization who called themselves No Ordinance for Annexation (NOAX), who filed a remonstrance and agreed to the settlement in 2005.The opinion, City of Carmel, Indiana v. Certain Southwest Clay Township Annexation Territory Landowners, 29S00-0608-CV-300, addresses two issues, according to Bryan Babb, an attorney who represents the City...
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Court accepts habitual traffic violator case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court decided Thursday to consider a case that presents an issue of first impression regarding an Operating While being a Habitual Traffic Violator statute.In the case State of Indiana v. Karl D. Jackson, 29A02-0610-CR-867, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles determined in 2003 that Karl D. Jackson was a habitual traffic violator and suspended his license. The state agency mailed a notice to Jackson, but he hadn't notified the BMV that he had moved so he never received it.A...
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Court rules on military retirement benefits during divorce

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
State courts can't treat military retirement pay waived for veterans' disability pay as marital property to be divided during divorce, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.Citing caselaw from the nation's highest court, a unanimous three-judge panel reversed and remanded a Randolph County decision in William A. Griffin, Jr. v. Shari L. Griffin, No. 68A01-0611-CV-491.William and Shari married in 1985 and divorced in 2006, agreeing as part of the dissolution to divide in half his $1,522 retirement pay from the U.S. Air...
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Court rules on grandparent visitation

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
What is likely to be a ruling of first impression in Indiana and one of a few nationally, the Indiana Court of Appeals today reversed a ruling that had ended a grandmother's visitation with her grandson following the adoption of her adult mother.The 11-page ruling comes in a guardianship action involving the minor, J.E.M, in Maxine E. Handshoe v. Jessica L. Ridgway, No. 76A03=0612-CV-603.Grandmother Maxine Handshoe is appealing the Steuben Circuit ruling that terminated her visitation privileges with her biological grandson,...
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Indiana governor subpoenaed in Vioxx litigation

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will testify this fall in the ongoing federal court litigation involving recalled painkiller Vioxx, which is being blamed for thousands of heart attacks nationwide.Documents in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana's online filing system show that subpoenas went out Tuesday, and Daniels will give a taped deposition in Indianapolis Sept. 11. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is scheduled to do the same Sept. 4 in his home state.Both governors have ties to the drug industry -...
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Court increases registration fee for lawyers

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana attorneys will have to pay $10 more a year to be licensed to practice law in the state, though they'll still fare better than most of their colleagues around the country.The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order this week increasing the fee from $105 to $115, making it effective for this year's Oct. 1 due date.This is the first increase in five years, when the fee rose from $95 to $105.Delinquency fees stay the same: $65 will be added for fees...
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Attorneys suspended over registration fees

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
More than twice as many Indiana practicing attorneys were suspended this year for not paying their registration fees, compared to 2006.Those 133 attorneys were suspended this week from the practice of law - on top of 111 colleagues also suspended this week for not meeting continuing legal education requirements.A set of two orders came from the Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday, though the registration fee suspension order wasn't immediately available from the courts. It was posted online late Thursday. The orders...
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Justices: law requires courts' reasons in sentencing

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Trial courts must issue sentencing statements that include a detailed account of the judge's reasons for imposing penalties, such as aggravators and mitigators, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.Additionally, the state's highest court has reiterated that it will only review a sentence on the grounds of abuse of discretion.In a ruling that answers questions left open following the 2005 revision of state law regarding Indiana's sentencing structure, justices unanimously affirmed a Kosciusko Superior judge's decision in Alexander J. Anglemyer v. State...
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Pro bono director selected for SCOTUS fellowship

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
A commission of nine members chosen by the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court has selected Monica A. Fennell, executive director of the Indiana Pro Bono Commission, as the 2007-2008 U.S. Supreme Court fellow assigned to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Her fellowship begins in the fall.Fennell ;s responsibilities would include the analysis and implementation of studies requested by Congress or the Judicial Conference, researching the federal rulemaking process, or drafting publications on administrative issues of...
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Marion County judges start teleconferencing for weekly meeting

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Hearing what happens at the Marion Superior Court Executive Committee meeting no longer means you have to attend the weekly gathering Friday mornings.Starting tomorrow, all you need is a telephone.The court will begin using a teleconferencing system for the 8 a.m. meeting, giving up to 30 people the option of listening and participating by phone rather than attending - which is still a choice.Topics on the Friday agenda for the four-person committee include building authority construction projects involving court build outs,...
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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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