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Porter County can't leave RDA

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A northwestern Indiana county can’t withdraw from a regional development authority created by lawmakers to facilitate economic development, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

The  Porter County Council sought declaratory judgment that it has the ability to withdraw from Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The RDA, created by the General Assembly in 2005, is funded by mandatory payments from Porter and Lake counties, and the cities of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond. The council voted to withdraw from the RDA in April 2009; in response the Legislature passed two amendments in June 2009 stating that if Porter County ends its membership in the RDA, municipalities in the county could join and thereby require the county officials to continue to pay county economic development tax revenues to the RDA.

The trial court granted RDA’s motion for summary judgment and denied the council’s motion for summary judgment, finding the relevant statutes don’t contain an express or implied right to withdraw. It also vacated a partial settlement agreement between the council and the county auditor and treasurer in which they had been depositing the tax revenues into an escrow account instead of paying the RDA. The court ordered the auditor and treasurer to make all future payments to the RDA as required by statute.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in County Council of Porter County v. Northwest Indiana Regional Dev. Authority, et al., No. 37A04-1004-CT-291, holding Porter County can’t withdraw from the RDA. It pointed to the fact when the statute was first created, it contained specific instructions that only applied to Porter County. Porter County was automatically made a member of the RDA when the legislation was enacted, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander. Even though the legislation creating the RDA is silent about participating counties’ ability to withdraw from the RDA, the judges found that the General Assembly had the ability to write the legislation to include a withdrawal provision, but did not.

“… we conclude the amendments, which it should be noted were passed by a different legislative body, i.e., the 116th Indiana General Assembly, were legislative responses to Porter County’s attempt to withdraw from the RDA, or more specifically, to Porter County’s attempt to escape its financial obligations under the RDA Act,” wrote the judge.

The judges also held that the council waived its argument that if the original legislation establishing the RDA Act is construed so as to forbid the county’s withdrawal, it is unconstitutional special legislation. The council didn’t present that claim to the trial court; instead, it challenged the constitutionality of the provisions that required the county to pay RDA fees regardless of whether Porter County withdrew its membership.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

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  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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