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Man’s barking dogs did not violate noise ordinance

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An Indianapolis man will be able to keep all four of his dogs after the Indiana Court of Appeals found that complaints by just one neighbor about barking didn’t support finding he violated a local noise ordinance. The trial judge had ordered he get rid of two of his dogs.

Wayne Brandt and his mother Betty Wilson have four dachshunds and live two lots down from Marilyn Annette Moore. Moore, who would frequently call the authorities to complain about her neighbors or activities in the neighborhood, kept a log of the barking by the four dogs. She called on more than one occasion about the dogs’ barking interfering with her ability to enjoy her property.

A bench trial was held on whether Brant violated Section 531-204(a) of the Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County, which says “It shall be unlawful for a person to own or keep any animal which by frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, screeching, other vocalization or otherwise shall cause serious annoyance or disturbance to persons in the vicinity.”

Moore was the only neighbor to make complaints or testify negatively about the dogs. Other neighbors said the barking did not bother them. The trial court found against Brant and ordered, per the mandatory provisions of Section 531-728 of the Revised Code, that he is limited to own two dogs and that they be spayed or neutered.

In Wayne Brant v. City of Indianapolis, 49A05-1201-OV-12, the Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that the plain, ordinary usual meaning of the term “persons” as used in the ordinance means that just one neighbor’s complaints are insufficient.

The appellate court also addressed the city’s contention that the interpretation of “persons” to mean more than one person would run afoul of the guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment because this interpretation would ignore the household of a single owner. But the City-County Council may not have wished to invoke its civil penalty authority for a noise ordinance unless multiple citizens were negatively impacted, such that the noise constituted a public, rather than private, nuisance, Judge John Baker wrote.


 

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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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