ILNews

SCOTUS set to start term

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Next week will be a big one for Indiana in the Supreme Court of the United States.

The nation's highest court will hear six arguments next week, including a much-anticipated and publicized case involving Indiana's voter identification law, and another state's case that has Hoosier interest on the constitutionality of lethal injections.

On Tuesday, the justices will take on a pair of Indiana cases. The combined cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, No. 07-25, which challenge the state's two-year-old voter photo ID law that has been upheld by both U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The cases are the first scheduled that morning, which begin at 10 a.m. Arguments are expected to last about an hour.

On Monday, the SCOTUS' second case of the morning will be a Kentucky case questioning the state's use of lethal injection, and whether a three-chemical concoction used is considered "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment. That case is Baze v. Rees, No. 07-5439, and takes on an issue that has been raised frequently by Indiana death row inmates, including three in the past year who are now all dead.

Those inmates had filed federal suits challenging the state's lethal injection method, making similar cruel and unusual punishment claims. Their petitions challenged how Indiana executes death row inmates, with claims that they'd be fully conscious and in agonizing pain for the duration of the execution process. They argued that state inmates who've been executed have repeatedly failed to receive adequate anesthesia and have remained conscious during the administration of lethal drugs. Other states have halted executions to review this method.

But the suits never gained steam in District Court and are now moot on the grounds that all three are dead. David Leon Woods and Michael Lambert were executed by lethal injection last year; the third, Norman Timberlake, died from natural causes in his Michigan City cell in November while still on death row.

Aside from those cases, justices also will consider issues during the week that involve immigration and deportation, employment age discrimination, taxes and nontradable return of capital, and whether a defendant's lawyer can waive the right to a federal judge presiding over jury selection without consulting that client. While the court doesn't hold arguments Thursday or Friday, justices will meet Friday in private conference and could decide when to schedule arguments in another Indiana case it's accepted.

That case is Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, which asks whether the Sixth Amendment grants someone found competent to stand trial the right to represent himself in a criminal proceeding. In early December, the court agreed to hear that case and it has tentatively set arguments for March, though a docket date hasn't yet been set.

The Supreme Court's arguments are not televised or broadcast live, but coverage of can be found online on the Indiana Lawyer Web site at www.theindianalawyer.com, as well as in the Indiana Lawyer Daily and print editions of the newspaper.
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  1. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  2. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  3. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  4. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  5. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

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