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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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