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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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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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