Courts

GAL/CASA program teams with retired educators

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
Children in the Indiana court system are about to have many more allies thanks to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. The organization announced this morning it has chosen the Indiana Supreme Court's GAL/CASA program as its new volunteer project. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana Retired Teachers Association Executive Director Ralph Ayers, and others involved in the project were on hand in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom to explain the project and thank the IRTA for becoming involved....
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SCOTUS won't hear free-speech cases

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States has decided against taking two Indiana cases that involve free-speech issues.At its conference last week when the high court decided to examine Indiana's two-year-old voter identification law, justices also declined to hear James G. Gilles v. Bryan K. Blanchard, et al., 06-1617, and Deborah A. Mayer v. Monroe County Community School Corp., et al., 06-1993. The court posted an order denying the cases Monday.The denials mean the previous decisions from the 7th Circuit Court...
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Pastor who ministers to death row inmates to speak at Notre Dame

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
The Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will sponsor "Death Row Ministry and Indiana ;s Upcoming Execution of David Woods" from noon to 12:50 p.m. Wednesday in the University of Notre Dame Law School ;s courtroom, Room 121. The event is open to the public.The speaker is Wanda Callahan, a pastor of the Church of Brethren in Goshen. She has counseled death row inmates for more than 30 years, both in Florida and Indiana. Callahan will speak about the death penalty,...
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No duty owed to attacked restaurant patron, judges rule

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis fast-food restaurant didn't owe a patron the duty of protecting him from attack just because it had placed a table on the sidewalk outside, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.A three-judge panel issued a decision David Schlotman v. Taza Café, d/b/a Gyro Joint , 49A05-0608-CV-475. The judges heard arguments in the Marion County case May 22.This case addressed whether the carryout restaurant Gyro Joint had a common-law duty to protect patron Scholtman, who was harassed and hit in...
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Court vacates summary judgment

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an Indiana District Court's grant of summary judgment and remanded the case so the court could determine what right a company has to receive compensation for its vandalized railroad cars. In CSX Transportation Inc. v. Appalachian Railcar Services Inc., No. 06-3430, CSX brought suit in the Southern District to recover payment it made to Appalachian Railcar Services (ARS) for damaged railcars. CSX believed the 13 railcars derailed on CSX-owned track, making them liable for any...
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Commission discusses technology, hardship license

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Commission on Courts - the legislative interim study committee that considers issues instrumental in court operations - gathered Tuesday to hear about technological initiatives under way in the state courts and expanding the jurisdiction of courts issuing driver's licenses because of hardship.Mary DePrez, director and counsel of trial court technology for the Supreme Court's Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, told the commission about new initiatives launched recently on a protective order registry and e-traffic citations, all of which will eventually...
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Justices rule on competency for pro se representation

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The federal constitutional right to self-representation requires a defendant who is competent to stand trial be allowed to proceed pro se, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled. Justices granted transfer and issued a unanimous decision Thursday afternoon in Ahmad Edwards v. State of Indiana, No. 59S02-0705-CR-202. Justice Theodore Boehm wrote the 10-page opinion summarily affirming the Indiana Court of Appeals' rationale in a September decision that reversed the convictions for attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon and now means...
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Justices hear IMPD arresting-authority case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana's highest jurists today questioned attorneys about whether any arresting authority exists for those who didn't take an official oath for the recently created Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.Justices' pointed questions go to the heart of State v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, 49A05-0708-CR-445, a drunk driving case that Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill ruled on in early August, throwing out a woman's arrest because of the oath-taking issue. The Indiana Attorney General's office filed a petition in August to appeal the case directly to...
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Court's juvenile division launches modest means program

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A new modest means program has been launched for the Marion Superior Court ;s juvenile division to help families who might not otherwise be able to afford legal representation in CHINS cases.Set up by the Indianapolis Bar Association and juvenile court earlier this year, this program is by court referral only and aimed at supporting families whose income disqualifies them for low and no-cost legal representation from the Marion County Public Defender ;s Office and other legal-assistance programs.Juvenile court officials will...
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News spreads about Tinder's confirmation

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
News came late Tuesday night that U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder has been promoted to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.His first order of business today: resuming a criminal jury trial that's been under way this week in his Southern District of Indiana courtroom in Indianapolis. That priority made him unavailable early today to talk about the confirmation, but his courthouse colleagues made sure everyone knew the significance of the news."True to form, Judge Tinder was on the bench handling...
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High court won't intervene in recount

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court won't get involved in a recount challenge to the recent Terre Haute mayoral election.Justices denied an emergency transfer late Friday requested by Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr., who filed the transfer request Thursday. Bopp represents Republican Duke Bennett, who won the Nov. 6 election by 107 votes. That tally would oust Democratic Mayor Kevin Burke. Bopp argued Vigo Circuit Judge David Bolk didn't have jurisdiction because Burke had failed to properly identify Bennett in his recount...
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Second COA interviews scheduled for Friday

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
During second interviews for an opening on the Indiana Court of Appeals, six semi-finalists will discuss their ideas for making the appellate court more efficient. The seven-member Judicial Nominating Commission will begin second interviews Friday for the seat, which opens in August when Judge Patrick D. Sullivan retires. These six semi-finalists were chosen from an initial 20 applicants.   After these interviews, the commission will select three names to send to Gov. Mitch Daniels, who must then appoint a successor within...
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Time capsule unveiled at federal courthouse

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Preserving history at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis often comes with vow that it will happen rain or shine.Court officials kept their promise Tuesday, despite fast-moving thunderstorms that slammed the city with lashing rain, hail, and fierce winds, and they battled the wet weather and darkened sky to place a time capsule outside the U.S. District Court, Southern District in Indianapolis. Dozens gathered for the 4 p.m. ceremony, crowding inside the courthouse ;s front hallway as the storms unleashed lashing rain...
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Court upholds enjoined counts

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's convictions and sentence for murder and drug possession, saying he waived his right to appeal his denied motions for mistrial because he failed to raise the points properly during his trial. In David Mark Frentz v. State of Indiana, No. 59A05-0610-CR-559, Frentz raised four issues on appeal: whether the trial court committed reversible error in enjoining and then denying his motions to sever the drug possession counts from the murder count; whether the trial court...
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Plaintiffs can't sue over legislative prayer

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
In a long-awaited ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today, the former Indiana speaker of the House of Representatives came out the winner in a suit challenging prayers in the General Assembly sessions.While former Speaker Brian Bosma has won this appellate round, a  2-1 panel of judges didn't touch the controversial merits of the case, and the case could still go to the United States Supreme Court.The federal appellate court ruled today that plaintiffs who filed a suit against...
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Justices rule on convictions, sentencing in police-impersonation case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Various offenses committed at different times and in different counties do not constitute a single episode of criminal conduct for sentencing purposes, the Indiana Supreme Court has reinforced this week.That logic, however, doesn't extend to convictions, as the state's highest court has affirmed a lower appellate finding that multiple instances of police officer impersonation are considered "the same occurrence," and subsequent convictions in different counties violate Indiana's double jeopardy statute.Justices granted transfer Wednesday in Derek Scott Geiger v. State of Indiana,...
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Court rules on prison disciplinary action case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A divided Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a prison discipline suit Tuesday, with one of the dissenting justices writing that the majority decision removes judicial review and violates both federal and state constitutions.In Aaron Israel v. Indiana Department of Correction, 46S03-0706-CV-253, justices came down 3-2 on dismissing a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Authoring Justice Frank Sullivan was joined by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Robert Rucker. Dissenting justices were Ted Boehm and Brent Dickson."The...
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Judge: Parents not responsive in Anderson school uniform suit

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The legal challenge to a new school uniform policy in Anderson could be slowly slipping away, as a federal judge in Indianapolis is looking to dismiss the case after the pro se parent plaintiffs "utterly failed" to respond to discovery requests and haven't shown any likelihood of prevailing in court.U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder on Friday vacated an injunction hearing and trial set for this morning because of the plaintiffs' lack of response. He has issued orders barring testimony and...
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Child's 'home state' rules jurisdiction

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today Indiana courts have jurisdiction to modify custody agreements originally made in another state, as long as Indiana is considered the "home state" of the subject child. In the case, In Re: The Marriage of Barbara Kenda and Boris Pleskovic, 71A03-0701-CV-34, Kenda, the mother of A.P.K., appealed a custody modification order awarding Pleskovic, the child's father, custody of A.P.K. Kenda contends the trial court in Indiana did not have jurisdiction to modify and abused its...
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Judge sees shift in 'constitutional jurisprudence' in protected speech cases

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A separate concurring opinion by a Court of Appeals judge describes what he calls "a fundamental shift in Indiana's constitutional jurisprudence."Judge James S. Kirsch made his statements in the unanimous, 3-0 opinion today in Latoya A. Blackman v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0610-CR-893, which involves a woman convicted of disorderly conduct in 2005 for yelling, swearing, and non-compliant behavior toward police officers during a vehicle narcotics search of the car in which she was riding.The court ruled that Blackman's arrest for...
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Supreme Court rules on emotional distress case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Spouses can recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress claims even when there is no physical injury or direct impact, but unmarried or engaged couples cannot, the Indiana Supreme Court said today.The state ;s high court also held in its opinion that such a claim requires the plaintiff to have learned of the incident by having either witnessed the injury or the immediate gruesome aftermath.Its unanimous opinion with a separate concurring opinion from two justices is the answer to a...
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Bad breakup leads to lawsuit between former associate, firm

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today on a case where a law firm sued its former associate who left, along with several other employees, to join a new firm. In Kopka, Landau & Pinkus v. Larry Hansen, et al., No49A02-0611-CV-987, Hansen's previous employer, law firm Kopka Landau & Pinkus, appealed two trial court orders -summary judgment in favor of Hansen and judgment in favor of Hansen on the counterclaims against KLP. Hansen worked as an associate attorney for KLP and...
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Supreme Court grants emergency writ for dairy farm case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted an emergency writ filed by a rural Huntington County dairy farm accused of contaminating local waterways with manure from 1,400 cows. An order issued Wednesday afternoon bars Huntington Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes from deciding on a preliminary injunction stopping the dairy owner, Johannes DeGroot, from spreading cow manure on nearby fields, until the state's high court can rule on a request for permanent writ of mandamus and prohibition. However, any previous orders issued by...
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COA rules on habitual-offender enhancement

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a case involving the denial of a defendant's motion to correct an erroneous sentence. The court also considered whether the trial court dealt correctly with the defendant's habitual substance offender enhancement by treating it as a separate conviction and whether the trial court may properly suspend any portion of the sentence enhanced by the habitual substance offender finding. In Joseph Bauer v. State of Indiana, 92A05-0704-PC-229, Bauer filed a...
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Court rules on gun manufacturer suit

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's decision to deny handgun manufacturers' motion to dismiss a public nuisance suit brought by the city of Gary. The court determined Indiana's public nuisance statute is applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms for purposes of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. At issue in Smith & Wesson Corp. et al. & United States of America v. City of Gary, Indiana by its mayor, Rudy Clay, 45A05-0612-CV-754, was whether the...
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