First Amendment

Jury weighs punitive damages after $115M Hogan sex tape verdict

March 21, 2016
 Associated Press
Jurors will consider punitive damages against Gawker Media after already awarding former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan $115 million in a lawsuit over its online publication of a sex tape.
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Apple's best arguments against the US over iPhone access

February 25, 2016
 Bloomberg News
Apple has just days left to marshal its legal arguments in the biggest battle in a generation pitting public safety against personal privacy: the U.S. government versus one of the world’s most powerful technology companies.
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COA finds 1 out of 3 dental advertising regulations unconstitutional

January 20, 2016
Jennifer Nelson
The regulation that compels dentists to disclose every dentist within the practice in advertisements is unconstitutional, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday. It held two other challenged regulations regarding advertising are not unconstitutional.
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Suit challenges constitutionality of RFRA fix, local gay rights laws

December 10, 2015
Indianapolis Business Journal, J.K. Wall
The “RFRA fix” passed in April to quell discrimination fears about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is now being challenged as unconstitutional by two organizations that were the most vocal proponents of the original legislation.
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Indiana county to allow Nativity scene with Bill of Rights

November 23, 2015
 Associated Press
A southeastern Indiana county that was at the center of a legal battle over a Nativity scene on its courthouse lawn will allow a mix of religious and secular displays this holiday season, including a manger holding the Bill of Rights.
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Panhandling laws face challenge after church signs ruling

October 30, 2015
 Associated Press
Cities trying to limit panhandling in downtowns and tourist areas are facing a new legal hurdle because of a recent Supreme Court of the United States ruling that seemingly has nothing to do with asking for money.
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Experts say free speech at stake in 'American Sniper' appeal

October 19, 2015
 Associated Press
Legal experts say important free speech issues will be at stake when an appeals court considers whether former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is entitled to the $1.8 million judgment he won against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle.
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Northern Indiana school district sued over Nativity scene

October 8, 2015
 Associated Press
A high school student and a parent are challenging the constitutionality of a live Nativity scene that's been included in a northern Indiana school district's annual Christmas show for decades.
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Woman asks court to allow marijuana use per church beliefs

September 15, 2015
 Associated Press
A Minnesota woman accused of violating probation says she should be able to use marijuana for religious reasons because she belongs to a pot-smoking church based in Indiana.
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7th Circuit: Marion County judicial elections unconstitutional

September 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
The way Marion County judges are elected is unconstitutional, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, throwing out a 40-year-old system that ensured an even split of Democratic and Republican judges and facilitated a pay-to-play party slating system.
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ACLU of Indiana challenges state law banning ballot photos

August 28, 2015
 Associated Press
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is challenging a new state law that prohibits voters from photographing their ballots and sharing those images on social media.
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Risk to student in school religion case merits concealing mom’s name

August 4, 2015
Dave Stafford
The mother of a Fort Wayne public school student may proceed without identifying herself in a federal lawsuit claiming the second-grader was ostracized and shamed by a teacher because he told a classmate who inquired about his faith that he didn’t believe in God. The mother said identifying herself would disclose her son’s name, subjecting him to further harm and public criticism.
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Judge: Indiana prisoner’s peyote suit must proceed

July 30, 2015
Dave Stafford
An Indiana inmate’s federal lawsuit claiming he has a religious right to use peyote and tobacco must proceed, a judge ruled, though she also made clear state officials may seek a motion to dismiss the case.
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7th Circuit rules against Anderson mayor in suit following firings

June 25, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith lost his appeal of the finding that he is not entitled to qualified immunity regarding all of the fired government workers involved in a lawsuit alleging their discharges violated the First Amendment.
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Parents sue Hobart school district over prayers at school events

June 2, 2015
 Associated Press
A Hobart school district faces a lawsuit over prayers that are said before athletic events, graduations and school board meetings from parents who say the prayers violate the First Amendment.
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High court throws out conviction for Facebook threats

June 1, 2015
 Associated Press
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man prosecuted for making threats on Facebook but dodged the free-speech issues that had made the case intriguing to First Amendment advocates.
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Judicial campaign solicitation ban upheld by SCOTUS

April 30, 2015
 Bloomberg News
A divided Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states can bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions, leaving intact bans in 30 states.
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Nativity lawsuit brings new county ordinance

January 16, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a “public forum ordinance” this week in response to the ongoing lawsuit over a nativity scene displayed on the county’s courthouse lawn during the holiday season.
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Justices appear to favor small church over sign law

January 12, 2015
 Associated Press
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday appeared likely to side with a small church in its fight with a Phoenix suburb over limits on roadside signs directing people to Sunday services.
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Disputed Nativity scene will stay up until Dec. 26

December 22, 2014
 Associated Press
A county in southeastern Indiana reached an agreement Friday with a group suing to force the removal of a Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn that will allow the decades-old display to remain in place through Christmas.
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Judge delays hearing on Indiana Nativity scene

December 19, 2014
 Associated Press
A federal judge has delayed a hearing on a bid to remove a Nativity scene that's been erected each winter for more than a half-century on a southeastern Indiana county's courthouse lawn.
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First Amendment complaint filed against county for nativity scene

December 16, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A nativity scene on the grounds of the Franklin County courthouse has become the subject of a federal lawsuit.
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7th Circuit declines collateral-order review in infertility lawsuit

December 2, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A Fort Wayne woman’s discrimination lawsuit against the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will continue despite the Catholic Church’s attempt to get the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene before trial and dismiss the complaint on religious freedom grounds.
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Justices weigh free speech rights, Facebook threats

December 1, 2014
 Associated Press
The Supreme Court of the United States struggled Monday over where to draw the line between free speech and illegal threats in the digital age.
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Attorney: reasoned discourse needed in Internet age

November 5, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
Wabash College grad David Kendall returns to alma mater as the keynote speaker at the school's Public Discourse Summit.
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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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