Courts

Court rules on self-defense statute

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana's highest court says the phrase "reasonably believes" in the state's self-defense statute requires a person to have subjective belief that force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury and that actual belief was one any reasonable person would have had under the circumstances.The Indiana Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision Wednesday afternoon in Philip Littler v. State of Indiana, No. 71S03-0704-CR-151, reversing a ruling by St. Joseph Superior Judge Roland Chamblee Jr.The case involves a gun and knife fight between...
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Justices grant 3 transfers, including dram shop case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted three transfers in three civil cases this week.Transfers come in Michael M. Cubel v. Debra A. Cubel, No. 32A04-0605-CV-268, American Fire & Casualty Co. v. Direction in Design Inc., et al., No. 29A05-0511-CV-681, and Rebecca Shaw v. LDC Enterprises, et al., No. 29A05-0511-CV-681.The Cubel appeal stems from a Hendricks County marriage dissolution case involving spousal maintenance and child support for college. In a memorandum opinion issued April 30, the Court of Appeals didn't find the...
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Senate sets Judge Tinder's confirmation hearing

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder in Indianapolis will face the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 25 for his confirmation hearing for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.The 2:30 p.m. hearing in Washington, D.C., will be webcast at the Senate committee's Web site. The federal judge from the Southern District of Indiana received word from the White House in July that President George W. Bush nominated him for the job. If confirmed, Judge Tinder would be the first Hoosier jurist appointed to...
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Supreme Court will hear candidate certification dispute

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The candidacy of a Cass Circuit judge is now going before the Indiana Supreme Court - even though the candidate in question has been a sitting judge for this entire year.Justices have granted transfer in J. Bradley King, et al. v. Leo T. Burns, et al., 09A02-0610-CV-847, which questioned the candidacy of judicial office-seeker Leo Burns in last year's primary and general election.Burns, who was selected to fill the vacancy in the November 2006 ballot after the May primary, was not certified...
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E-ticket system to be unveiled

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court is playing a key part in doing away with delays between police-issued tickets and that information arriving in the hands of courts and prosecutors.Indiana is receiving more than $2.4 million in federal grants to launch the system known as eCWS or the electronic Citation and Warning System. The system will give officers the ability to produce e-tickets in the field and relay that information to a central location for law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts to access -...
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Counties receive Family Court grants

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Eight counties are receiving grants from the Indiana Supreme Court to address the needs of families with multiple court cases.The high court announced Friday that the eight counties will receive a total $74,000 in grants, with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $19,000. Money can be used for numerous programs such as information sharing, facilitation and pre-trial conferencing, or affordable alternative dispute resolution. The funding is considered "seed money" and courts are expected to eventually become self-funding.Grant recipients are: Allen County $14,000,...
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Marion judges choose court administrator

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
    An Indianapolis law firm partner who has led three state agencies is the new administrator for Marion County courts. On Monday, the four-judge executive committee chose Glenn R. Lawrence to fill the spot, which has been vacant since the former administrator Ron Miller resigned in late March. Since then, Senior Judge Richard Good has been filling in as interim administrator. The county's four leading judges offered Lawrence the $93,500-salary job Monday afternoon, according to presiding Superior Judge Gerald Zore. Judges had...
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St. Joseph County approves adding public defenders

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Ten more public defenders are coming soon to St. Joseph County.The county council on Tuesday approved hiring the additional defenders for the second half of the year. Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch had asked council members for the changes described as a "revolutionary change" to the county system late last month.Judge Gotsch says the 10 public defenders are needed to keep up with increasing caseloads that are at higher levels than the state standard allows. The measures also establish a chief deputy...
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Court: child support can include medical costs

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Parents can be ordered to pay medical expenses for college students as part of child support obligations, even past age 21, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.All five justices agreed in Michael Cubel v. Debra Cubel, 32S04-0707-CV-283, which is authored by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and involves two conflicting rulings from the state's appellate court on this issue.The Hendricks County case involves the two parents who divorced in 2005, but have a daughter attending college in the state. She is currently...
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Court: federal suit should have been dismissed

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The federal District Court in Indianapolis should have dismissed a suit challenging Indiana's prerecorded telephone messages statute because a state court was already considering the issue and could have provided an adequate legal remedy, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.The three-judge appellate panel also chastised U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney for concluding last October that the then-approaching 2006 congressional election was a reason for urgent attention on this issue.The 7th Circuit decision came in FreeEats.com, Inc. v. State of...
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Blanket recusal comes in Vanderburgh child-support case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Every so often, judges find they must recuse themselves in certain cases. That's happening in Vanderburgh County, where all the superior judges have been recused from a case involving the child support matters of a magistrate's son.Suzanne Hebert Hamilton is waging the child support legal battle against her ex-husband, Richard Hamilton, who is son of Vanderburgh Superior Magistrate Allen Hamilton. The couple separated in 2005 and finalized a divorce early last year. She lives in Florida with the couple's two children...
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SCOTUS deciding whether to hear teacher firing case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States has asked for more information before deciding whether to accept a case involving a former Bloomington elementary school teacher fired over comments she made about the Iraq war during class.Deborah A. Mayer, who now teaches at an elementary school in Florida, lost her job after making comments to elementary students in early 2003 - just prior to the war's beginning - that she would "honk for peace" when passing war protests. Some parents later...
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Court: Collateral source rule applies in railroad award

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Contributions from a railroad company to a federal disability fund cannot be used to reduce the amount of a plaintiff's recovery, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed today.In a 30-page decision in CSX Transportation Inc. v. Robert D. Gardner, No. 49A02-0610-CV-917, the court affirmed a trial judge's decision to not allow the railroad company to use its $35,000 annual contributions to a disability and retirement fund to lower the jury-imposed amount of $605,500 in damages for Gardner's injuries.He was working as...
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Supreme Court suspends attorneys for unmet CLE

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court suspended 111 attorneys this week for failing to meet their continuing legal education requirements last year.Justices issued an order In the Matter of Failure to Comply with Continuing Legal Education Requirements on Tuesday. Though effective immediately, it stipulates that attorneys' proscription against practicing law begins at 11:59 p.m. June 11.A total 41 attorneys based out of state are suspended, followed by 26 in Marion County, eight in Hamilton County, five in Monroe County, four in Allen County, three...
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Suit: School district violating teachers' rights

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A federal suit filed this week in Indianapolis accuses a school district of violating teachers' constitutional rights by blocking access to two political Web sites relating to the board's actions and removal of the superintendent.This is the third suit lodged against the Perry Township School Board since November, when the board voted to place Superintendent H. Douglas Williams on paid administrative leave pending a review of his performance.Filed by Perry Education Association President Terry Rice and Southport Elementary School teacher Sherrie Williamson,...
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Commission interviews COA applicants

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Judicial Nominating Commission conducted its first round of interviews today for the Indiana Court of Appeals vacancy that will be created by Judge John T. Sharpnack's retirement in May 2008.Fifteen people from Indiana's legal community applied for the appellate court seat.Nine applicants sat before the commission this morning, including three trial judges, a senator, and the heads of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Indiana Gaming Commission. Interviews started at 9 a.m. and ran until mid-afternoon, all conducted in a...
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Judges rule on New Albany land case

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Debate over land once earmarked for the 1960s expansion of Interstate 64 through New Albany has gone to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which ruled today in that case.The three-judge panel ruled in Donald Jensen, et al. v. The City of New Albany, et al., holding that a reversionary clause in a 1960 deed was unenforceable after land was transferred to the state more than four decades ago.Land in question was 5.82 acres known as the Fawcett property, which the original...
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Committee questions Van Bokkelen at confirmation hearing

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Northern Indiana ;s U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelen faced the U.S. Senate ;s Judiciary Committee this morning in his confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship opening in Hammond this summer.President George W. Bush nominated Von Bokkelen to replace retiring Judge Rudy Lozano, who plans to take senior status in July.During the hearing, Von Bokkelen and three other nominees for judgeships: Debra Ann Livingston for 2nd Circuit judge, Roslynn Renee Mauskopf for district judgeship in the Eastern District of New York, and...
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Court affirms murder sentence

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court today affirmed the life sentence of a man convicted of killing a 10-year-old girl in Jackson County.A unanimous opinion in Anthony Stockelman v. State of Indiana, 36S00-0608-CR-285, affirmed the trial court was correct in weighing aggravators more heavily than proffered mitigators and that the sentence of life without parole was appropriate.Stockelman pleaded guilty to charges of murder and child molesting arising out of Katlyn Maria Collman's murder in Crothersville in January 2005. Following her disappearance, state police...
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COA affirms mistrial denial

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's decision to deny a motion for mistrial and affirmed the defendant's conviction and sentence. In Michael Hale v. State of Indiana, 43A05-0611-CR-647, Hale appealed his conviction for dealing in cocaine as a Class A felony and his 50-year sentence. He claimed the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial because he argued testimony from a witness implied Hale was previously involved in drug activity. Lance Patrick and Josh Hamilton were asked...
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Court of Appeals again denies prisoner's suit

January 1, 2007
Rebecca Berfanger
Yet another one of Westville prisoner Eric Smith's lawsuits has made its way to the Court of Appeals.In an opinion released today, Eric Smith v. Indiana Department of Correction, et al., 46A03-0607-CV-327, the Court of Appeals affirms the trial court's decision of case 46D03-0410-CT-365.Pro se, Smith filed the complaint against the Department of Correction and numerous individual employees regarding the grant of the Department of Corrections motion for judgment on the pleadings, the denial of Smith's request for appointment of counsel, the...
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Commission votes on court-related recommendations to lawmakers

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A handful of Hoosier counties got a nod from a legislative study commission for new courts and judicial resources this week, and those recommendations will now go to lawmakers for consideration in the next General Assembly session.The Commission on Courts met Monday to discuss and vote on several measures that include new courts or judicial officers, but Marion County and the Indiana Court of Appeals are not on the list of recommendations.The commission did not bring up or vote on a...
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Supreme Court grants 5 transfers

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana's top jurists granted transfer Wednesday in five cases and will consider issues involving physicians who leave foreign objects in a patient's body, parental termination hearings conducted without the parent, timely court-filing deadlines, and the sentencing options courts have after probation violations.In Russell Prewitt v. State of Indiana, No. 10A04-0610-CR-589, the Court of Appeals in April reversed a Clark County case in which the judge revised a sentence after the defendant violated his probation. The appellate judges held that the lower...
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Indianapolis lawyer chosen for judicial commissions

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Attorney John C. Trimble, a partner at Indianapolis firm Lewis Wagner, has been chosen to be one of the newest members on two key judicial commissions focused on nominating new appellate judges and ethical, qualification issues for judges statewide.Starting in January, Trimble will be one of seven voices on the Judicial Nominating and Qualifications commissions. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard chairs the commissions, which include the same members. State law requires that three commissioners be attorneys while three others are lay...
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Oxford professor speaks Sept. 12 at IU-Bloomington

January 1, 2007
IL Staff
University of Oxford professor Jonathan Herring will present a lecture - "Entering the Fog: On the Borderlines of Mental Capacity" - for the public Sept. 12 at noon in the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington moot court room.Herring is on campus as Indiana Law's George P. Smith II Distinguished Visiting Professor-Chair through Sept. 15.He has authored leading texts in family and medical law, and his research in these areas covers hot-button topics including the regulation of pregnancy and enforced...
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