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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted three transfers Thursday to cases involving what manner an appellate court could reverse a revocation of probation, how to calculate guardian ad litem fees, and whether there is a rebuttable presumption that children ages 7 through 14 can't be found contributorily negligent.

At issue in Cornelius Cooper v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0709-CR-780, is whether Cornelius Cooper's probation should have been revoked and by what manner the appellate court was authorized to reverse a revocation. A majority believed Cooper was denied due process as a fundamental error, allowing the appellate court to review his untimely appeal of the revocation order. Judge Nancy Vaidik, in her concurring result in a separate opinion, believed Cooper's appeal should have been reviewed under Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 2. Judge Vaidik also noted in her opinion the disagreement in the Court of Appeals on whether a probation revocation order is appealable under Post-Conviction Rule 2, but she believed that right existed.

In the issue of first impression in the case In re: The paternity of N.L.P., No. 45A03-0805-JV-226, the appellate court ruled on guardian ad litem fees and ruled a GAL must differentiate between attorney and non-legal work when billing in a paternity case. The trial court in the case reduced court-appointed GAL Jill Swope's fees from $34,800 to $20,000 but didn't explain why it chose to reduce the fees to $20,000. The Court of Appeals remanded for further analysis of the fees based on the appellate opinion, which instructed trial courts to consider guidelines set out in Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5 when deciding how to compensate for fees and expenses.

In Clay City Consolidated School Corp. v. Ronna Timberman and John Pipes II, No. 11A04-0802-CV-96, the Court of Appeals found a trial court committed reversible error in a suit against a school for the death of a student when it instructed a jury that Indiana law has a rebuttable presumption that children ages 7 through 14 can't be found contributorily negligent. Timberman and Pipes sued the school corporation after their 13-year-old son died during a basketball practice. He had fainted two days earlier during practice but hadn't seen a doctor before his next practice. His death was attributed to ventricular fibrillation. His parents sued under Indiana's Child Wrongful Death Statute and won $300,000 following an order on remittitur from the court reducing the damages.

Noting that the trial court "reopened the proverbial can of worms" with this issue, the appellate court examined Indiana caselaw to conclude that state law doesn't conclusively contain a presumption either in favor or against 7- to 14-year-olds with respect to whether they can be found liable for negligent acts. The trial court misstated Indiana law when it informed the jury that state law contains a rebuttable presumption that children between the ages of 7 and 14 can't be found contributorily negligent. The Court of Appeals remanded for a new trial.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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