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Suit challenging construction of asphalt plant timely filed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals determined that the Jeffersonville director of planning and zoning and the city building commissioner are public officers under Indiana Code 34-11-2-6. The judges discovered there is no state law defining public officer under this statute.

In Patricia J. Barrow and Charlie Hanka v. City of Jeffersonville, Jeffersonville Planning and Zoning Dept., Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeal, Jeffersonville Building Comm., et al., 10A05-1112-PL-647, Patricia Barrow and Charlie Hanka in August 2010 sued the city of Jeffersonville and other entities after the city’s Director of Planning and Zoning, Chester Hicks, and Building Commissioner, Russell Segraves, approved and issued an Improvement Location Permit to allow MAC Construction and Excavating to lease a portion of property to operate an asphalt plant. The property was used as a quarry.

Barrow and Hanka claimed the July 14, 2005, zoning interpretation and the Aug 4, 2005, ILP were improperly issued. They sought revocation of both. MAC argued the issue was barred by the statute of limitations under I.C. 34-11-2-6, which the trial court granted.

Under the statute, suits against a public officer must be filed within five years of when the cause of action accrued. The plaintiffs claimed the court erred when it found Hicks and Segraves were public officers protected by the statute of limitations. Determining how to define “public officer” for the first time under this statute, the Court of Appeals affirmed. It took into account statutes and caselaw.

“… we believe that in order for an individual to be a public officer under Indiana Code section 34-11-2-6, it must be determined that the individual holds a position for which duties are prescribed by law to serve a public purpose. We further conclude that the taking of an oath is not required to be a public officer, but the fact that one has been taken is a strong indicator of the position being one of a public officer,” Judge James Kirsch wrote.

The judges found both men to be public officers, so the statute of limitations is applicable. However, the court erred in granting summary judgment because the plaintiffs’ cause of action wasn’t barred by the five-year statute of limitations. The plaintiffs’ couldn’t have learned of the July 2005 letter or issuance of the ILP in August 2005, Kirsch continued. The earliest they could know of the plant construction was Nov. 30, 2005, when a public hearing on the construction was scheduled.

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on Aug. 16, 2010, which is within the five years of the date on which the cause of action accrued. The judges remanded the case for further proceedings.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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