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SCOTUS declines to take Indiana case

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The nation's highest court refused to take an Indiana case involving a national insurance crime bureau worker's claim that he was a federal employee rather than an independent contractor when he helped with the prosecution of an insurance case.

At a private conference last week, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari in the case of Joseph Jaskolski, et al. v. Rick Daniels, et al., No. 09-946. The court released its decision in an order list Monday.

Attorneys had filed a petition for writ of certiorari in February following an Indiana Supreme Court decision in November to not accept the case. The state's Court of Appeals had declined to rehear the case following its April 24, 2009, ruling, which affirmed a judgment from Lake Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider on an issue that crossed between the state and federal court systems.

At the state appellate level, the three-judge panel upheld the trial court's denial of a request by Jaskolski and the National Insurance Crime Bureau for certification under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1998, or the Westfall Act, that provides a procedural mechanism to ask the U.S. Attorney General to determine the scope of one's employment.

The state court held that Jaskolski acted as an independent contractor, not as an employee, when he volunteered and cooperated with the federal government in its investigation and prosecution of the Danielses regarding an insurance claim about a 1998 motor home fire. After being acquitted of criminal charges at a jury trial, Daniels and his wife filed lawsuits that were consolidated into a 15-count malicious prosecution suit in Lake Superior Court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Indiana declined to certify Jaskolski was working as a federal government employee, and the issue continued to bounce between the federal and state courts through the years and Jaskolski and the NCIB failed to win each time.

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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