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Lawmakers miss self-imposed deadline

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The Indiana General Assembly tried to end the session more than a week before the constitutional March 14 deadline, but impasses on school funding and unemployment insurance caused the legislators to miss their March 4 self-imposed deadline.

Several bills of interest to the legal community made it out of conference committee, a few with major changes. Legislators cut out the language in Senate Enrolled Act 307 that established Bartholomew Superior Court 3 and reorganized Clark Superior Courts into a unified Circuit Court. Instead, the bill reverted back to its original form of dealing only with Floyd County court matters.

House Enrolled Act 1276, which had been amended to require the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee to report divorce decree statistics each year, was completely stripped in conference committee and converted into a bill on French Lick resort matters. When originally filed, the bill dealt with domestic violence, bullying, and sending of sexual material, but was later amended to focus on the release of records, HIV testing, and JTAC matters.

SEA 224 was amended in conference committee to make the new filing and notice requirements for sex offenders effective upon passage instead of July 1, 2010. The bill was amended during the session to include language addressing the process of removing names of sex offenders from the registry if they qualify.

The Indiana Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Wallace v. State had caused confusion about the process. Now sex offenders will need to file a petition in court and request a court order for removal. The prosecutor will receive notice and have a chance to respond, and the offender would have to provide information to prove he or she is no longer eligible for listing on the registry. If the judge orders removal, the Department of Correction would have to grant it.

Senate Bill 399, which deals with caps on fines for moving violations, now says that a person who admits the violation on the day of the person's court date or who contests the ticket under certain circumstances may not be required to pay more than court costs plus a judgment of $35.50. The conference committee also resolved a conflict between its language and language in HEA 1154, a bill dealing with Marion County courts.

Language concerning Local Development Agreement transparency may not be dead yet. The language was originally inserted into SB 405, which died in the House. There is a chance the language will be inserted into HB 1086, an economic-development bill currently in conference committee, said Bryan Corbin, public information officer for the Attorney General's Office. The AG supports only this language in the bill, which would require non-profit and for-profit LDA agencies that receive casino money to disclose to the state how they distribute grant money. This language failed to pass during the 2009 session.

Two bills of relevance to the courts remained in conference committee as of Indiana Lawyer deadline Thursday - SB 149, involving Department of Child Services matters including out-of-state placements; and HB 1271, which deals with problem-solving courts.

Already before the governor awaiting signatures are HEA 1100, which prohibits an inmate in a county jail from having a cell phone; HEA 1186 on interlocal agreements concerning courts; and HEA 1350 on uniform acts concerning civil procedure.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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