Courts

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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Court: Company not negligent in trust demise

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a magistrate judge's ruling in favor of a Michigan company on claims that it was negligent in managing an Indiana trust that eventually collapsed. Magistrate Judge John Paul Godich, of the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana's Indianapolis Division, granted summary judgment in favor of Benefit Actuaries on Indiana Funeral Directors Insurance Trust's claims that Benefit violated its fiduciary duty under ERISA, and negligently failed to provide competent advice while managing the trust.The...
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Leave act specific to alcoholism treatment

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana man sued his former employer for firing him on grounds that he missed too much work, arguing that he was covered by the federal medical leave act because he was getting treatment for alcoholism.But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined today that the Family and Medical Leave Act doesn't protect workers from being dismissed. Because he missed three days of work just prior to being admitted for alcoholism treatment and that time combined with previous absences was enough...
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COA: Duty to defend not triggered

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Frustrated with the parties involved in the litigation, the Indiana Court of Appeals April 17 reversed a trial court's ruling in a case involving public-access laws, fraud, and an insurer's duty to defend.In Allianz Insurance Company, et al. v. Guidant Corporation, et al., No. 49A05-0704-CV-216, Chief Judge John Baker wrote the unanimous opinion regarding the "monstrosity of a litigation that has crossed state lines" is a straightforward dispute about when and whether an insurer's duty to defend had been triggered. The judge cited the...
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High court names public information officer

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
A former television journalist is the new public information officer for the Indiana Supreme Court. Kathryn Dolan, former morning news anchor at WLFI in Lafayette, was hired in an effort to continue promoting public awareness about the Supreme Court.Dolan will work to help better inform citizens about how the court works and the impact of its decisions, and will also encourage media coverage of the Supreme Court. Dolan, a New Mexico native, started in the position June 30.She takes over a...
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Trial Rule submission deadline extended

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The deadline for clerks to submit an Indiana Trial Rule 77(k) request to post court information on the Internet has been extended to Feb. 29. The original deadline was Feb. 15. A complete list of counties approved to post court records can be found on the state's judiciary Web site. Clerks, with the consent of the majority of the judges in the courts of record, may make certain court records available to the public through remote electronic access, such as the Internet....
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Lawyer sentenced for battery, confinement

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana attorney convicted of sexual battery, criminal confinement and interference with reporting of a crime was sentenced March 6 in Porter Circuit Court. Michael Haughee had been found guilty of assaulting a woman in a wheelchair. Haughee received a concurrent sentence on all three counts of one year in jail and one year supervised probation. The Griffith attorney wasn't immediately taken into custody because Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper agreed to consider whether to stay his jail sentence pending an appeal, said Porter...
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Counties, courts recover from flooding

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Johnson County Prosecutor Lance Hamner rushed to his downtown Franklin office on Saturday to save computers and files from floodwater.At first, water was about an inch high. Within an hour, the floodwater had creeped higher - he was being shocked while trying to salvage computers. The water suddenly reached 4 feet, making the prosecutor's office look more like an aquarium than an office. Rushing floodwater rose even higher, crushing doors shut, trapping him inside so that he couldn't even escape through...
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National Crime Victims' Rights Week events

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
To observe National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which kicked off April 13 and lasts through April 19, many communities in Indiana have organized events to recognize crime victims, survivors, and the service providers who come to their aid.Some events around the state include:Victim Assistance Candlelight Vigil, 5:30 p.m. today at the Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne. The event is sponsored by Fort Wayne Police Department Victim Assistance. Understanding & Investing in Children Trapped in Domestic Violence, 8...
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Restitution can't include security system costs

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State statute doesn't allow trial courts to order restitution to pay for installation of a security system in victims' homes, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.Ruling on Keith Elton Rich v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0712-CR-687, the appellate court reversed Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Thomas Busch's restitution order issued in October 2007. Rich had pleaded guilty to burglary and marijuana possession and received a 14-year sentence that was partially suspended to probation. As a condition of probation, he also was ordered to...
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Kazakhstan group visits Marion County courts

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A group of about two dozen public administrators from Kazakhstan are in Indianapolis today learning about the state and local courts systems. The group visited the Marion County courts this afternoon.Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of Marion Superior Court welcomed them and gave an introduction about Marion County courts. She discussed the election process and the day-to-day work of a judge. After learning about our judicial system, the group toured several courtrooms and watched a jury trial, said Marion County Court Administrator Glenn...
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Court: evidence doesn't support sentence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court threw out a life-without-parole sentence for felony murder because there wasn't proof the killing was "intentional," as state law requires for that penalty.In Hobert Alan Pittman v. State of Indiana, No. 31S00-0610-CR-355, Hobert Alan Pittman appealed his convictions and sentence of two consecutive life sentences for murdering his father and stepgrandmother, as well as a 73-year sentence for convictions of attempted murder, theft, auto theft, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Pittman's stepmother, Linda, and stepgrandmother, Myrtle, were returning...
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Judges: Evidence proves scienter in fraud case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld fines against two men convicted of defrauding investors, finding a reasonable jury would have found them guilty of scienter even though the defendants didn't take the stand. In Thursday's ruling in United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Melvin R. Lyttle and Paul E. Knight, Nos. 07-2466, 07-2467, Melvin Lyttle and Paul Knight appealed the $110,000 fines each got following a grant of summary judgment in favor of the SEC on a variety of...
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Justices affirm sentence in child torture case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court today affirmed a trial court's sentence of life without parole for a Lafayette mother who had pleaded guilty to torturing and killing her stepdaughter.In Michelle Gauvin v. State of Indiana, No. 79S00-0702-CR-65, the state's highest court ruled 4-1 in a direct appeal that Tippecanoe Superior Judge Thomas Busch correctly sentenced the Lafayette mother for murder, confinement, and neglect of her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Aiyana. The girl died from head trauma in March 2005 after months...
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Hammond to host appeals court arguments

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels to Hammond April 7 to hear arguments in a case involving a dispute after the sale of real estate. Arguments begin at 10 a.m. CST in the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division No. 1 Courtroom, 232 Russell St., Hammond. In the case, Gladys E. Tobias v. Margaret and Thomas Mannella, No. 45A03-0708-CV-373, on appeal from Lake Superior Court, Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Margret Robb are asked to decide whether the trial court erred...
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Applicants sought for $90,000 in grant funds

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The Heartland Pro Bono Council, which serves Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby counties in central Indiana, received a cy pres award of more than $65,000 late last year and the organization is looking to distribute the money in the upcoming months. That amount, along with other funds the HPBC has received in cy pres monies in recent years - totaling $90,000 - will be given in one grant or multiple grants sometime after June 5, 2008.Heartland is...
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Court rules on environmental cleanup case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the statute of limitations on a claim for contribution toward cleanup costs doesn't begin until the owner is ordered to clean up the property, regardless of whether the owner should have known about the contamination earlier. The issue in Richard U. Pflanz and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, individually, Merrill Foster d/b/a/ Friendly Foster's Service, and Sunoco Inc. (R&M),  No. 36S01-0710-CV-425, is when the 10-year statute of limitations began on a claim for...
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Suspended attorney gets 3 more months

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis attorney is getting one last warning from the Indiana Supreme Court before being suspended indefinitely from practicing law.Attorney Wilburn G. Lowry of Marion County received an additional 90 days on his suspension handed down nearly a year ago, with the court specifically noting in its Jan. 11, 2008, order that "any future suspension for failure to meet CLE or dues requirements shall result in an indefinite suspension."In the order In the Matter of Contempt of the Supreme Court of...
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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