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State Fair properly stripped champion sheep title, but penalties merit hearing

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The Indiana State Fair Board’s decision to strip a winner of his grand champion sheep prize will stand, but the 4-H’er was entitled to a hearing on penalties, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.  

Jordan Parker was awarded 2011 Grand Champion Market Lamb and his animal raised $23,000 at the state fair Sale of Champions, but a drug screen after the sheep was slaughtered detected the presence of a feed additive for cattle not FDA-approved for sheep. Parker and his parents deny administering the prohibited feed additive.

After the positive drug test on the sheep, Parker lost not just the title, but also the auction sale prize money. He also was banned for two years from the sheep department and permanently banned from state fair 4-H sales. He faces a lifetime ban from participating in any state fair activities upon further infractions.

When Parker’s parents challenged the drug test results and sought to independently test the samples, they were informed the samples had been exhausted. They claimed among other things that Jordan had a property right in the lamb, he was deprived a due process hearing to challenge the drug test results, that the punishment was excessive, and that the fair board’s policy considering drug test results final and binding was unconstitutional.

On appeal of the fair board’s judicial review, a Marion Superior judge granted summary judgment in favor of the board, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded, holding that the Parkers had agreed to terms and conditions set forth in the State Fair/4-H handbook.

“They agreed to be bound by the Handbook, including its requirement that the drug testing was ‘final and binding,’” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the panel in Jordan Parker, a minor, individually, and by James Parker and Cheryl Parker, as Natural parents and next friends of Jordan Parker v. Indiana State Fair Board, an agency of The State of Indiana, 49A02-1212-PL-1003.   

But the panel ordered the trial court to conduct a further, narrow hearing.

“However, because the summary judgment motions addressed only the admissibility of the drug test results, we conclude that Jordan was entitled to an evidentiary hearing regarding the penalties imposed on him,” Barnes wrote.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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