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Open Door violation not worth $8K, COA rules

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A group of petitioners who prevailed on an Indiana Open Door Law violation will get reimbursed for attorney fees, but the amount will be reduced by nearly $5,000 after a trial court found the group was requesting money for work unrelated to the claim.

Dianne and William Ross and Martha Jane and Paul Milhouse filed a complaint with the Indiana public assess counselor following the Bartholomew County Drainage Board’s impromptu visit to inspect a berm constructed along the roadway.

The public access counselor held the drainage board did violate Indiana’s Open Door Law when it traveled to the berm site without giving proper public notice.

A trial court awarded attorney fees for the violation in accordance with Indiana Code 5.14.1.5-7.

Although the Rosses and the Milhouses had filed two affidavits requesting fees totaling $8,586.25, the trial court reduced the award to $3,766. The court ruled the petitioners were including fees for other services unrelated to the Open Door Law violations.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s finding in Dianne M. Ross, William L. Ross, Martha Jane Milhouse and Paul David Milhouse v. Bartholomew County Drainage Board and Stephen A. Hoevener, Jim Pence, Ron Speaker, Jeff Schroer, and Carl Lienhoop, 03-A01-1210-PL-489.

The Court of Appeals ruled the petitioners had requested fees for work that was not part of the Open Door Law violation, including fees for a claim they subsequently dismissed.

The drainage board also filed an appeal of the attorney fee award, arguing the fees should be reduced to a nominal amount because the violations were unintentional, the board took corrective action, and the violation had no adverse impact. The Court of Appeals did not issue a ruling, concluding that would constitute a reweighing of evidence which is prohibited.

 
 

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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