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Court allows relief under Crime Victims Statute

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Contract provisions that exempt a party from liability under the Indiana Crime Victims Statute are void when the party violates public policy, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday. In The State Group Industrial (USA) Unlimited v. Murphy & Associates Industrial Services, No. 82A04-0703-CV-158, State Group appealed the trial court judgment denying the company's request for relief under Indiana Code 34-24-3-1, the Crime Victims Statute. The trial court awarded State Group actual damages, but denied relief under the statute based on a...
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Lawmakers pick summer study topics

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State lawmakers have announced what topics they'll explore before the 2009 legislative term begins.On tap: immigration, administrative law judge powers, Indiana's alcoholic beverage laws, and a variety of other legal issues.The Indiana Legislative Council Thursday created multiple new interim study commissions that will meet this summer. What they recommend helps set the stage for the next session. Legislative leaders will appoint lawmakers to the panels in coming weeks, and most must make recommendations to the General Assembly by Nov. 1.One of...
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COA says how to admit DNA testing analysis

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's convictions of child molesting and used the opinion to establish how documents explaining the underlying analysis of DNA testing may be admitted at a criminal trial.In hearing the appeal of Richard Pendergrass v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0712-CR-588, the appellate court discovered after a thorough review of caselaw that there was no precedent in place to establish the admittance at a criminal trial of those documents. Richard Pendergrass appealed his child molesting convictions, arguing...
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SCOTUS upholds Indiana voter ID law

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Indiana's law requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot is constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning.The nation's high court issued its decision at 10 a.m. on the pair of consolidated cases, William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, et al., No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party, et al. v. Todd Rokita, No. 07-25. The decision comes just a week prior to Indiana's primary on May 6, upholding the strictest voter ID law in the...
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Judge: 'I didn't lie ...': Marion Superior jurist faces disciplinary panel

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Marion Superior Judge Grant W. Hawkins is used to spending his days in court. But on Oct. 6 and 7, he wasn't on the bench; the jurist was the one being judged. Already, his former part-time commissioner has resigned and been permanently banned from any judicial role because of this issue, and Judge Hawkins is battling 11 misconduct charges against him that could mean his judicial career is on the line. But before he finds out his fate, the judge is...
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State submits SCOTUS brief in pro se case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Trial courts should be able to deny criminal defendants the right to represent themselves when that person can't communicate coherently with the court or jury, the Indiana Attorney General's Office wants the nation's highest court to decide.The state submitted a brief this week to the Supreme Court of the United States, which will hear arguments March 26 in the Hoosier-based pro se case of Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208. You can view the 74-page brief online here.Dating to July 1999,...
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COA affirms order to enjoin

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment enjoining some members of a class action suit from pursuing a quiet title action, finding the agreements of a settlement disposed of all claims in property between the class and a company.In Fern E. Firestone, et al. v. American Premier Underwriters Inc. and U.S. Railroad Vest, Corp., No. 06A01-0804-CV-199, the appellate court had to determine whether the trial court erred in ruling that claims brought by Wayne E. Boyd and Bunker Farms to...
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Law student turns 6 today

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
While Feb. 29, which happens every four years, marks just another day for most, a first-year law student at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis will celebrate his sixth birthday today.Mike Doversberger, an Elkhart native born Feb. 29, 1984, said he might use the birthday as a way to break the ice at a job interview today. Later, he will celebrate with friends and family."I like to put it on the resume that I graduated from Notre Dame (undergrad) before...
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Insurance write-offs benefit for insured

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled write-offs constitute insurance benefits for which an insured has paid directly, and as a result opposing parties in suits can't introduce evidence of write-offs to reduce damage awards. In Brandon Stanley v. Danny Walker, No. 41A01-0610-CV-462, the appellate court looked to courts in other jurisdictions for the answer to whether write-offs negotiated by an insurer amount to an "insurance benefit" and should therefore be excluded when calculating the actual extent...
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Plea agreement, child support issues granted transfer

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to one case dealing with child support, and two cases dealing post-conviction relief. The court also granted transfer to three cases involving sex offenders.In the case Marla K. Young v. Timothy S. Young, No. 09A05-0701-CV-52, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's calculation of Timothy's child support obligation. The appellate court found the trial court erroneously calculated Timothy's weekly gross income, and remanded the trial court to add...
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Dead candidates remain on primary ballot

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals examined state statutes to determine which apply when a candidate dies before the primary but wins the election, an issue the court hadn't tackled before. In Dan Lockard v. Charles Miles and John Mullican, No. 84A04-0708-CV-493, Lockard challenged his loss to Charles Miles in the Terre Haute Democratic primary. Miles died April 18, 2007, nearly three weeks before the May 8 primary, and media in Terre Haute first reported his death April 19. Lockard and Miles were...
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State bar seeks award nominations

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana State Bar Association is accepting nominations for awards the organization traditionally hands out at its annual meeting in October. Nominations for the following awards will be accepted through July 15: Outstanding Judge Award, Outstanding Young Lawyer Award, Rabb Emison Award, Hon. Viola Taliaferro Award, and David Hamacher Public Service Award. In addition, nominations are due by July 15 for three civility awards handed out by the Litigation Section of the state bar: the GP Hall of Fame, Liberty Bell...
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Online opinions access hits a snag

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Court-watchers looking online to view Indiana's appellate decisions have been denied two days of opinions because those published rulings were not posted online.A set of three dozen opinions came down Tuesday and Wednesday, but a change last month in how access is provided to those daily rulings meant that only online viewers, those directly involved in a decided case, or those who've traveled to the Indiana Statehouse to inspect opinions knew that any rulings had been released.By noon today, a list...
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Attorneys wanted for flood assistance

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana State Bar Association is looking for attorneys to help answer legal questions of Hoosiers affected by this month's flooding. Flood victims can call the bar association's toll-free number to receive free legal assistance for issues relating to the flooding. Community Outreach Coordinator Alaina Byers said volunteer attorneys can be from anywhere in the state. Flood victims will contact the state bar at (800) 266-2581 and leave their contact information and legal issue. The ISBA will pass along the information...
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New DOC commissioner named

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The superintendent of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City has been named the new Department of Corrections commissioner. Edwin Buss will succeed Dave Donahue Aug. 1. Donahue announced his resignation as commissioner earlier this week. Buss, a LaPorte native, has been superintendent of the Michigan City facility since 2005 and was superintendent at the Westville Correctional Facility from 2002 to 2005. He began his career as a correctional officer in 1987 at the Indiana State Prison. Donahue announced his resignation...
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COA to conduct arguments in Syracuse

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels north to a Syracuse high school Thursday to hear arguments in a case involving the search and discovery of drugs in a car. In Jerald J. Womack v. State of Indiana, 43A03-0706-CR-251, Womack appealed his convictions and sentence for Class D felony marijuana possession and for being a habitual controlled-substance offender. The Court of Appeals will determine whether the police search of Womack's car violated his rights under the U.S. and Indiana constitutions and if...
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Central Indiana law firms merge

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Two central Indiana law firms have merged in order to provide their clients with all their legal needs in one firm. Indianapolis law firm Coleman Stevenson and The Montel Law Firm of Carmel officially became Coleman Stevenson & Montel today. The merger, which has been in talks for three months, came out of need, said Gerald Coleman, partner at Coleman Stevenson & Montel.The Montel Law Firm often represents clients in business and transaction work, but doesn't do much in terms of litigation,...
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SCOTUS rules on money laundering

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
In a split decision this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States has defined money laundering and tossed out the convictions of an East Chicago man.The high court ruled on U.S. v. Efrain Santos, et al., No. 06-1005, which involved a money-laundering ring in East Chicago.A majority of justices held today that "proceeds" according to the federal money-laundering statute applies only to transactions involving criminal profits, not criminal receipts.Indianapolis attorney Todd Vare with Barnes & Thornburg argued before the high court...
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Incurred risk not malpractice defense

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A doctor cannot use evidence of a patient's previous surgeries or pursue an incurred-risk defense against a medical malpractice suit, the Court of Appeals ruled today. In Brenda Spar v. Jin S. Cha, M.D., No. 45A05-0611-CV-683, Spar appealed the jury decision in favor of Dr. Cha in her medical malpractice claim against the OB/GYN for a surgery he performed on her. Spar previously had been in a serious automobile accident and as a result had numerous abdominal surgeries. When she decided to...
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District Court upholds jury award against GM

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A U.S. District judge chastised General Motors for the way the company treated its salaried employees who gave up being under union protection and later wanted to rejoin the union as hourly workers. In an opinion released Aug. 15, Judge David Hamilton of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, upheld a $3.1 jury award against GM for promissory estoppel claims, finding the plaintiffs had provided sufficient evidence to prove their Sixth Amendment claim against the company. Judge...
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Tax Court in Bloomington March 17

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Tax Court hits the road March 17 to hear arguments in a case regarding how to properly value a Meijer store for property tax purposes. The arguments will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Moot Courtroom at Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington.In Meijer Stores Limited Partnership v. Betty Smith, Wayne Township Assessor, Michael Statzer, Wayne County Assessor, et al., No. 49T10-0609-TA-89, Meijer and Wayne County don't see eye-to-eye on the assessed value of land owned by...
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Prison program graduation Monday

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
After spending a semester together learning about social action in a class led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 12 Indiana Women's Prison inmates and 12 IUPUI students will celebrate what they learned at a graduation ceremony Monday morning in Indianapolis. The 24 students were part of a collaborative effort between the university and the Indiana Women's Prison entitled Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which first began in Indiana last year. The 12 IUPUI students attended the class inside the Women's Prison. The...
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Governor names new Court of Appeals judge

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Dubois Superior Judge Elaine Brown is the newest judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals.Gov. Mitch Daniels announced this morning Judge Brown's appointment to the state's second highest appellate court, replacing Judge John Sharpnack who is taking senior status in May. "This is a dream of a lifetime," Judge Brown said, on first reaction this morning. "I'm just so extremely honored and humbled, and can't wait to get started. It's life-changing for me."The southern Indiana jurist has been on the bench...
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COA to travel to French Lick

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels to French Lick Tuesday to hear arguments in a case involving the validity of a search warrant.In James H. Helton v. State of Indiana, 20A04-0710-PC-00589, the judges are asked to determine whether an invalid search warrant was used to obtain evidence against James H. Helton. Also, if the search warrant was invalid, the court must decide whether Helton was denied effective assistance by his trial counsel when they did not move to suppress that evidence....
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County gets public defense reimbursement

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
For the first time in six years, Union County will receive reimbursement from the Public Defender Commission. The county will get a little more than $7,000 from the commission, which is 40 percent of the county's first quarter costs for public defense. Union County has been eligible for reimbursements since 1999, but until this year only requested reimbursement for the years 1999-2002. The Public Defender Commission was created in 1989 by the General Assembly and distributes money to qualifying counties. Qualifying...
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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