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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. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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