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Refusal to remove biased board member ends potential administrative remedies

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After finding that the exhaustion of administrative remedies was excused for a company seeking to operate a stone quarry because a drainage board member was biased against the project, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the trial court acquired subject matter jurisdiction and properly denied the board member’s motion to dismiss.

Gerry Scheub was a vocal opponent to an application filed by Singleton Stone with the Lake County Plan Commission for a zone change to allow it to construct a stone quarry. Scheub was a member of the plan commission as well as chairman of the Lake County Drainage Board, from which Singleton needed to obtain a permit after approval by the Lake County Council.

Singleton asked that Scheub recuse himself from a vote on the drainage permit, but Scheub declined. Singleton then filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that Scheub’s participation in or attempts to influence the board’s consideration of the permit would deprive Singleton of due process and should be enjoined. Scheub and the board filed a motion to dismiss alleging the action was not justiciable for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The parties entered into a settlement conference at which Scheub agreed he would recuse himself as long as the stipulation of judgment would be filed after the primary election, in which he was running. Singleton accepted, and the parties agreed Scheub would be replaced on the board by Richard McDevitt on this matter. A week after the election, Scheub’s attorney said there was “no deal” because Scheub “changed his mind.” Singleton then filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss filed by Scheub and found the parties entered into an enforceable agreement.

In Gerry Scheub, and the Lake County Drainage Board v. Van Kalker Family Limited Partnership, Lake County Trust Company as Trustee of Trust No. 5240 and Singleton Stone, LLC, 37A03-1210-PL-453, the judges found this case to be similar to Ripley County Bd. Of Zoning Appeals v. Rumpke of Indiana, Inc., 663 N.E.2d 198 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996).

“Here, as in Rumpke, it is clear that Scheub’s actions in the quarry project amounted to an actual bias against Singleton. In order to give the Drainage Board an opportunity to prevent an error as a result of bias, Singleton requested Scheub’s disqualification,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Upon the Drainage Board’s refusal to disqualify Scheub, any further action by the Drainage Board became futile and of no value under the circumstances because any decision in which a biased Board Member participates will be vacated. Therefore, as the exhaustion of administrative remedies was excused, the trial court acquired subject matter jurisdiction over the cause and properly denied Appellants’ motion to dismiss.”

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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