Government

Circuit examines ministerial exception

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Two former administrators of Salvation Army thrift stores in Indianapolis are appealing their lawsuit against the non-profit organization on grounds that they were wrongly denied overtime pay in violation of a federal labor law.But at issue in their federal case is whether they're classified as "employees" and whether a religious freedom exception barring courts from getting involved in church management can be applied to their employment law claims.The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in Steve and Lorrie Schleicher...
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Justices affirm search warrant, convictions

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court yesterday affirmed a defendant's convictions of dealing in cocaine and possession of marijuana because the initial search warrant was supported by sufficient probable cause. One justice dissented, fearing the logic used by the majority to affirm the search warrant would invite more searches by the government that could violate both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions. In Willie Eaton v. State of Indiana, No. 89S04-0802-CR-106, Willie Eaton appealed his drug convictions, arguing the initial search warrant wasn't supported by...
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Court: media ban does not pass test

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, ruling there were genuine issues of fact as to why they denied death row inmates from giving face-to-face interviews with the media. In David Paul Hammer v. John D. Ashcroft, et al., No. 06-1750, Hammer sued Bureau of Prison officials, including then-Attorney General of the U.S., John Ashcroft, and former wardens of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Harley Lappin and Keith...
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SCOTUS defines money-laundering 'proceeds'

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States has defined money laundering and tossed out the convictions of an East Chicago man in a split decision today.The high court ruled on U.S. v. Efrain Santos, et al., No. 06-1005, which involved a money-laundering ring in East Chicago. This was one of two money-laundering cases decided by the court today; the other came in Cuellar v. U.S., No. 06-1456, which held that mere concealment of money during a transport is not enough to support...
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President signs new federal IP law: Legislation considers piracy issues, creates 'copyright czar'

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The United States is stepping up to better protect intellectual property. If there was any doubt before, it's official now with a new law signed by President George W. Bush Oct. 13. Known as the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, or PRO IP for short, the law is designed to strengthen existing copyright laws, create civil forfeiture clauses so equipment believed to be used in an IP crime can be seized, and establish a cabinet-level position...
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COA: State can't claim adverse possession

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The state can't obtain title to a disputed tract of land through adverse possession because the state can't satisfy the tax requirements in Indiana statute regarding adverse possession, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today in a case of first impression.In State of Indiana v. Jeanette Serowiecki, No. 56A04-0710-CV-576, the state appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Jeanette Serowiecki on the state's complaint to quiet title to an 18.6-acre tract of land in Newton County. Serowiecki is trustee...
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Conference to address poverty, globalization

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
How the law and legal associations can lessen the impacts of poverty both at home and abroad will be the focus of a Law, Poverty and Economic Inequality Conference April 3 and 4 at Valparaiso University School of Law.Visiting professor Penelope Andrews organized the conference in response to the various ways globalization has affected poverty through job loss, diminishing labor rights, lower earnings, and an increase in private companies taking over the former responsibilities of governments. The event will consist of...
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U.S. allowed to join Indy case arguments

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the federal government to have a voice in arguments of an Indiana case later this month, testing the competency standards for pro se litigants in criminal cases.On March 14, justices of the nation's highest court granted a motion from the U.S. Solicitor General to participate in arguments as amicus curiae in Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, 07-208, set for 10 a.m. March 26.At issue is what the Sixth Amendment dictates when determining whether someone found competent...
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Court: 'mistakes' in judge's sentence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the sentence of man convicted of defrauding Medicaid because the District Court judge's sentencing transcript was "laced with apparent mistakes and misunderstandings." In United States of America v. William J. Higdon, No. 07-3951, William Higdon appealed his 60-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Richard Young of the Southern District, Evansville Division. Higdon pleaded guilty to defrauding the Indiana Medicaid program, and the judge and parties agreed the sentencing guideline was 18 to 24 months....
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Moving forward on merit selection: Judiciary, bar association support statewide change

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An effort that began more than 50 years ago is being resurrected and could eventually reshape how judges are selected throughout Indiana. Stars are aligning for a multi-faceted thrust toward merit selection and retention for all trial judges statewide, an endeavor that's been brewing behind the scenes for years but is now gaining more steam from the state's judiciary and largest bar associations. While no guarantee exists that lawmakers would even consider such a change, key players supporting the concept in...
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Grant available for Family Court Project

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A one-year grant of up to $40,000 is available to launch a Family Court Project. The grant is an opportunity for county governments to get funding for a project that provides judicial coordination of multiple cases involving the same family. Last year, only two new projects received funding for the 2008 year, so the Indiana Supreme Court had an extra $40,000 to include in the 2009 budget, said Loretta Olesky, Family Court manager. Typically, the grants run on two-year cycles; however,...
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Judge crosses out cell tower dispute

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal suit is going back to Jeffersonville to decide whether a wireless carrier can put up a cell tower disguised as a Baptist church cross.U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker Thursday remanded the case Sprint Spectrum v. City of Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeals, No. 4:05-cv-00154-SEB-WGH, issuing a final judgment and denying cross-motions for summary judgment from both parties. The nearly three-year-old suit was filed in the Southern District of Indiana New Albany Division.Sprint wanted to build a "stealth facility"...
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Courts can review public school financing

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Hoosier courts have the authority to review the state's school financing formula to determine whether Indiana is meeting a constitutional requirement to provide a quality public education for all students, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled May 2.A 2-1 ruling from the COA revives the public education financing case of Joseph Bonner, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., No. 49A02-0702-CV-188, which presents an issue of first impression. Nine public school students and their families from eight different school systems throughout the...
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7th Circuit upholds convictionRestricted Content

December 26, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's conviction and sentence for selling a firearm to a felon, ruling the wording of his indictment did not require the government to prove he knew about the gun buyer's past convictions
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ACLU: Full court should rehear prayer case

November 15, 2007
Michael Hoskins
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana wants the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a case involving legislative prayer.
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7th Circuit rules on garnished 'Sidewalk Six' moneyRestricted Content

September 5, 2007
Michael Hoskins
One of East Chicago's so-called "Sidewalk Six" convicts is the subject of a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling today, though the case more accurately centers on the $25 million in restitution he was ordered to repay and whether those garnishments should be considered marital assets during his subsequent divorce proceedings.
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3 names for the governor

May 11, 2007
Michael Hoskins
It's now up to Gov. Mitch Daniels to decide who will be the next Indiana Court of Appeals judge.
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AG argues automated dialing statute in 7th Circuit

April 3, 2007
Michael HoskinsMore

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 position, 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 committee offered Lawrence the $93,500-salary job Monday afternoon, according to presiding Superior Judge Gerald Zore. Judges had received about 20 applications...
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Former lawmaker, public defender champion dies

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
A former state senator who'd served the legal community as a public defender and lobbyist for the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association has died.Robert Hellmann, D-Terre Haute, died late last week at his home after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 60.Once minority leader in the Indiana Senate, Hellman had been a part of state government since the early 1980s. He was a member of the House of Representatives for four years before being elected to the Senate in 1986, where...
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International law lecture Monday

January 1, 2007
IL Staff
"Poodles and Bulldogs: the U.S., Britain and the International Rule of Law" is a public lecture by Philippe Sands, Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington's 2007 Addison C. Harris Lecturer, to be presented in the Moot Court Room at noon Sept. 24. A reception will follow.Sands is professor of law at University College London. A practicing barrister, Sands has extensive experience litigating cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International...
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Court clarifies where tax disputes belong

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
General jurisdiction courts don't have the authority to consider cases involving tax law or the Department of Local Government Finance, and the Indiana Court of Appeals says it also doesn't have the authority to remand those cases to the Indiana Tax Court.An appellate panel made its point clear in an opinion on rehearing today in Wayne Township, Marion County, Indiana v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, and Martha Womacks, Marion County Auditor, No. 29A05-0611-CV-661. This comes as a clarification and...
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Court reverses COA decision in zoning issue

January 1, 2007
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed that both the Board of Zoning Appeals of Evansville-Vanderburgh County and trial court were correct in denying the construction of a cellular tower that would be located too close to a residence under a county zoning code.In St. Charles Tower, Inc. v. Board of Zoning Appeals of Evansville-Vanderburgh County, 82S01-0702-CV-69, the state's highest court yesterday overturned the Court of Appeals ruling that found the BZA's decision to deny St. Charles the special-use permit was not supported by...
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Chief Justice on panel to study tax assessing, local government

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard will co-chair a commission designed to find long-term solutions to the state's property tax crisis, the governor announced today.Along with former Gov. Joe Kernan, the chief justice will lead the Commission on Local Government Reform beginning in early August. One of the questions the commission will look at is whether the township form of government should be abolished.Specifically, questions before the commission will be:- What local government offices might be eliminated to achieve efficiencies and...
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Governor names new Lake, Marion judges

January 1, 2007
Michael Hoskins
Gov. Mitch Daniels today chose a Gary attorney and legal counsel for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources director for a pair of judicial openings in Lake and Marion counties.Gary attorney Calvin Hawkins will take over as Lake Superior judge in September, replacing Judge Robert A. Pete who died in March. Admitted to the Indiana bar in 1971, Hawkins has concentrated his practice in civil and church litigation, as well as bankruptcy, probate, and family law. He earned his law degree...
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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