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SCOTUS doesn't take any Indiana cases

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The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to take several Indiana cases, including a criminal appeal about whether a stun belt restraint on a defendant during trial and sentencing is prejudicial.

At the start of its new term Monday, the SCOTUS released an 89-page order list of cases it considered. A final decision wasn’t made on all cases presented, but the court’s docket and order list shows the justices did deny six certiorari requests from Indiana.

Those denials include: James Guyton v. U.S., No. 10-10266, a crack cocaine sentencing case from the Northern District of Indiana; and Herbert Seay v. Bridget Foy, et al., a prison conditions case from the Southern District of Indiana.

The justices also denied John M. Stephenson v. Bill Wilson, No. 09-2924, involving a convicted murderer’s claim that he was improperly restrained with a stun belt during his trial, leading to a wrongful conviction. The federal case follows Stephenson’s jury conviction and death sentence in 1997 on three murders. U.S. Judge Theresa Springmann in 2009 threw out his death sentence and ordered a new trial on the stun belt claim during the penalty phase, but the 7th Circuit in 2010 remanded and asked her to reconsider her ruling that hadn’t addressed other legal issues. Although Stephenson is currently entitled to a new trial, his attorneys in March asked the SCOTUS to consider the stun belt issue.

Other cases the court declined:

• Shirley Jablonski and Jeff Sagarin v.City of Bloomington, No. 10-1520, which arises from an Aug. 20, 2010, ruling from the Indiana Court of Appeals involving inverse condemnation. One issue in that complex case was the appellate court’s analysis of and disagreement with the city’s claim that a property easement was established by prescription or common law dedication, finding Bloomington did not establish a prescriptive easement based on the public’s use of a pathway.

• John Felder v. Indiana, No. 11-5216, which stems from a July 2010 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals affirming a judgment in favor of the state and several Indiana Department of Correction employees relating to John Felder's incarceration at Pendleton Correctional Facility and how officials were allegedly negligent in collecting urine samples for drug testing.

• Antoine McSwaine v. Indiana, No. 10-11046, from the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in March not to grant transfer on an appeal the state’s intermediate appellate court had dismissed in November 2010 on grounds that it appeared to be a successive post-conviction relief request not allowed.

Later this week, the SCOTUS is expected to consider several writs of certiorari. Among them is Clarence K. Carter v. Chief Justice and Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana, et al., No . 11-5684, a case involving a man who sued the state’s Board of Law Examiners because he wants to take the bar exam without going to law school. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in Indianapolis dismissed the case with prejudice earlier this year for failure to state a claim warranting relief.

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