ILNews

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. 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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