Courts

Judge strikes down new obscene-material law

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
On the day a new Indiana law was set to take effect, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker struck it down as being unconstitutionally vague, overbroad, and a violation of the First Amendment.The 31-page ruling was issued by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, this afternoon in Big Hat Books, et al. v. Prosecutors, 1:08-CV-00596, a challenge to House Enrolled Act 1042 that would have required any person or organization wanting to sell literature or other material...
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Justices again deny election request

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has denied for the second time in two months a request to get involved in a Terre Haute mayoral election dispute.The justices sent notice Tuesday to attorneys that they won't bypass the Court of Appeals on a dispute resulting from the November election, when Republican Duke Bennett ousted incumbent Democrat Mayor Kevin Burke by about 110 votes.The court had previously decided not to get involved in an issue about whether Vigo Superior Judge David Bolk had jurisdiction...
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COA affirms jail phone commissions

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
After years of litigation, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that the Marion County Sheriff and the Indiana Department of Administration were allowed to enter into contracts with a phone company that provided commissions to the sheriff and IDOA on phone calls made from the jail and prison facilities. In Chanelle Linet Alexander, et al. v. The Marion County Sheriff and the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, No. 49A02-0708-CV-716, the plaintiffs are a class of people who have been...
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Justices overturn judgment in trampoline case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In a case of first impression involving a trampoline, premises liability, and the attractive-nuisance doctrine, the Indiana Supreme Court today overturned summary judgment that originally had been in favor of the trampoline owners, citing material issues of facts in the case. The high court granted transfer in Beth Palmer Kopczynski, individually and as next friend and parent of Alisha Palmer, and Alisha Palmer v. David Bryan Barger and Peggy Lucas Barger, No. 88S05-0710-CV-423, to determine whether the Bargers were responsible for an...
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Justices asked to take legal malpractice case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court is being asked to take a legal malpractice case in which an Indianapolis law firm got hit with an $18 million verdict two years ago.Attorneys representing law firm Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe filed a petition for transfer with the state's highest court Monday in Frederick W. Dennerline III, et al. v. Jim Atterholt, Insurance Commissioner of the State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0610-CV-557. This move comes following the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in May that upheld the...
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Clark Circuit judge appointed

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Abraham Navarro will succeed Judge Daniel F. Donahue as judge of the Clark Circuit Court. Judge Donahue is stepping down later this week. Navarro has served as a deputy prosecutor in the Floyd County Prosecutor's Office since 2002. Prior to working in the prosecutor's office, Navarro was an Allen Superior Court judicial law clerk from 2001 to 2002. Navarro was admitted to the bar in November 2002. He's a member of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Indiana Criminal Justice...
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COA: Totality of facts support blood seizure

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A blood sample seized by the state from an unconscious woman didn't violate her rights under the Fourth Amendment because all of the circumstances surrounding the car accident involving the woman led to a fair probability she drove a car while drunk, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.In Samara J. Copas v. State of Indiana, No. 33A01-0801-CR-3, Samara Copas appealed the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress a blood sample taken by the state after obtaining a search warrant. Copas...
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Courthouse preservation bill, others now law

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Bills relating to a courthouse preservation advisory commission, inmate issues, probate, foreclosure notices, domestic violence, and invasion of privacy concerns have been signed into law in the last week.Among the bills that are of interest to the legal community are:SEA 78, regarding probate and trust matters, signed today; HEA 1379, regarding viatical settlements, signed today; SEA 227, regarding the renamed sexual assault victim advocate standards and certification board, signed today; SEA 62, regarding posting notice of foreclosure sales, signed today; SEA...
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Allen County judge faces misconduct charges

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Allen County judge is facing disciplinary charges for what is being described as misconduct in a fellow jurist's courtroom that involved verbally berating members of a defendant's family after a sentencing hearing.Allen Superior Judge Kenneth R. Scheibenberger has been charged by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications with four counts of misconduct, filed Tuesday as a formal notice of disciplinary proceedings. The document can be viewed here.The filed complaint states that on Nov. 30, 2007, Judge Scheibenberger suspended his court...
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Appeals court affirms murder convictions

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man's convictions of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and the finding that he is a habitual offender. In Charles D. Boney v. State of Indiana, No. 22A01-0607-CR-310, Boney was connected to the murder of Kim Camm and her two children at home by her husband, David. Boney provided the weapon David used to murder his family and was at the Camm's home when the murder occurred. Boney raised several issues on appeal following his jury...
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Court reverses Pelley convictions

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed the murder convictions of a Lakeville man accused of murdering his family almost 20 years ago as a teenager.But in doing so, the three-judge panel all but directly asked the Indiana Supreme Court to take on this issue of first impression and clarify an earlier ruling justices made. That ruling specifically refused to dismiss the case on Robert Pelley's argument that a delay between charging and trial dates conflicted with his due process of...
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SCOTUS denies 2 Indiana cases

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take two Indiana cases, including one that inspired the law requiring child molesters to register their addresses on a public database.In a list of certiorari denials released May 12, the nation's high court announced it wouldn't review the Hoosier cases Christopher Stevens v. Ed Buss, No. 07-7745, and Christopher J. Stephens v. Indiana, No. 07-9858. Both had been reviewed at the court's private conference last week.Stevens is the case that inspired Zachary's Law. He...
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Lawrence sworn in as District Judge

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Just days after being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Judge William T. Lawrence took the oath Tuesday to become a judge in the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana. Chief Judge David F. Hamilton administered the oath in Judge Lawrence's courtroom in the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Indianapolis.Judge Lawrence had served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Indiana since November 2002, and is the first magistrate judge in the...
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Circuit Court finds no age discrimination

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A doctor whose job was terminated as part of hospital restructuring didn't provide enough evidence to show he was let go based on his age, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. In Laverne Tubergen v. St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc., No. 06-4304, Dr. Tubergen filed a discrimination complaint against St. Vincent under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. In an effort to streamline its operations and become more efficient, the hospital hired James Houser as...
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Mass. chief justice to speak at law school

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court Lecture, "Anatomy of Freedom: John Adams on a Global Scale," will feature as speaker the first female chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The lecture begins at 5 p.m. March 25 at the Wynne Courtroom at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis. Margaret H. Marshall was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 1999. Originally from South Africa, she came to the U.S. to pursue her master's degree at Harvard...
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COA: primary before true excess policies

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana's "Lease Statute" can't be used to determine the priority of insurance coverage between a primary insurance policy and true excess policies, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals today in a case of first impression. Old Republic Insurance appealed the trial court's decision in Old Republic Insurance Co. v. RLI Insurance Co., et al., No. 49A04-0709-CV-523, which determined Old Republic's policy had higher priority over other excess policies and that the Lease Statute didn't allow for ranking different types of insurance policies....
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Court: Girlfriend could consent to search

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's conviction of possession of ammunition by a felon, finding the defendant's girlfriend had the authority to consent to a search of the apartment by police when the defendant was not present. In United States of America v. Daniel Groves Sr., No. 07-1217, the Circuit Court had to determine whether Daniel Groves' girlfriend, Shaunta Foster, could allow police to search their apartment without a warrant in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court case,...
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Suit challenges new sexually explicit retailer law

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Several Indiana arts and publishing organizations have joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in a suit challenging the state's new law that requires sellers of sexually explicit material to register and pay a fee to the state. The ACLU of Indiana, along with the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association, Freedom to Read Association, Big Hat Books, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and other groups, yesterday filed the suit, Big Hat Books, Boxcar Books and Community Center Inc., et al....
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Justices address parental discipline

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A mother who spanked her 11-year-old son with a belt or extension cord didn't cross the line between parental discipline and abuse, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled.In its 4-1 decision late Tuesday in Sophia Willis v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-0707-CR-295, the state's high court established a bright-line rule on parental discipline privilege that it hasn't addressed since the adoption of the Indiana Criminal Code.Sophia Willis was charged and convicted of battery as a Class D felony for spanking her...
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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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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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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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