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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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