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New legislation streaming in

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An Indiana Court of Appeals expansion, executing the mentally ill, and how judges find representation in mandate litigation are just a few proposals already on tap for the General Assembly to consider this session.

The day before lawmakers are set to return to Indianapolis and begin the long budget-setting session, more than 100 separate pieces of legislation have been filed and many have direct impact on the legal community.

• New district: On a recommendation from the Commission on Courts, Senate Bill 35 proposes establishing a new sixth district for Indiana's intermediate appellate court, bumping up the number of judges from 15 to 18 starting in January 2010. This would be the first new district since 1991, and would include a judge from each of the court's original three districts.

The legislation declares this an emergency act, noting a price tag of $1.3 million in the first year and $2.2 in the following two years - complete with an array of jurists, law clerks, and administrative staff that would be needed. If passed, the Judicial Nominating Commission would have to interview and recommend three candidates by November, and the governor would have the final say on who'd be appointed to the new panel.

• Mandate: Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, proposed Senate Bill 44 that deals with judicial mandate representation, a direct result of mandate cases the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled on in recent years and discussions this past summer about how cash-strapped communities can ill afford those legal costs. The bill would require the Indiana Attorney General to represent any court that has issued a mandate for funds for court operation or court-related functions, and the state would not be allowed to reimburse a judge for any costs related to hiring a private attorney on mandate actions.

• Death penalty: Senate Bill 22 prohibits the death penalty from being issued to anyone with a severe mental illness, and sets up a procedure to determine whether a murder defendant can be classified that way. This legislation is similar to measures proposed in the past, and comes in the wake of suggestions from a commission created in honor of the late Sen. Anita Bowser, who died in 2007 and was an advocate of death penalty legislation.

• Grandparent visitation: Senate Bill 26, authored by Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, provides that a child's grandparent can seek visitation rights when a parent or guardian unreasonably denies or restricts visitation. The proposal eliminates current conditions for which grandparents can seek visitation rights.

A complete rundown of active legislation can be found online.

Aside from those issues, the General Assembly will likely spend most of its time focusing on the state's two-year budget and dealing with money issues stemming from previously passed property tax laws. Local government reform, including court changes, is expected to be a significant topic of discussion, though observers wonder how much may actually pass given the financial focus.

The Senate can file bills through Jan. 15, while the House of Representatives has until the end of January. Lawmakers have until April 29 for any action this session.

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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