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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer this week to three cases, including a first impression case involving whether someone who has drugs within 1,000 feet of a youth program center run in a church can have their conviction enhanced.

In Walker Whatley v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0809-CR-808, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Walker Whatley's Class A felony conviction of possession of cocaine, ruling he wasn't within 1,000 feet of a "youth program center" because the building is a church running mostly faith-based programs. The issue of felony enhancement for a violation of a "drug free zone" defined as a youth program center hadn't been the subject of an Indiana decision.

Whatley argued because the church doesn't bear an identifier to say it's a "youth program center," the statute provides no basis for people to know if they are within 1,000 feet of one.

Examining cases from other jurisdictions, the appellate court unanimously decided the church was and remains a church and isn't converted into a youth program center by reason of its faith-based activities for young people. The pastor of the church even testified that all of the services and events for children are essentially faith based.

In Travelers Indemnity Company of America v. Jerry Jarrells, No. 29A02-0807-CV-669, the appellate judges couldn't agree on the application of a previous case involving the set-off of workers' compensation payments, which led to a split court and three separate opinions. The case involved Travelers Indemnity Co.'s attempt to recoup a portion of workers' compensation benefits following a jury trial.

Judges Carr Darden, Nancy Vaidik, and Patricia Riley disagreed as to the application of Pendleton v. Aguilar, 827 N.E.2d 614, 621 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), to the instant case. The majority - Judges Darden and Vaidik - found Travelers was entitled to summary judgment but for different reasons. The majority presumed the jury followed the trial court's instructions and applied the law contained within it; thus, Travelers is entitled to a statutory lien and or reimbursement, wrote Judge Darden. Judge Patricia Riley dissented, writing the majority attempts to distinguish Pendleton on the basis it involves an insurer seeking a pro rata reimbursement, but she believes Pendleton is on point for the situation in the instant case.

The majority remanded the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Travelers and to determine the value of Travelers' lien and pro rata share for purposes of reimbursement.

In Foundations of East Chicago Inc., et al. v. City of East Chicago and State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0711-CV-987, the appellate court affirmed the trial court order dismissing Foundations of East Chicago's complaint challenging legislation that allowed the city of East Chicago to exercise its authority to select recipients of economic funding provided by a riverboat casino. The city has always had the authority to enact an ordinance to modify the arrangement between casino operators, organizations, and the city, regardless of Section 302 of the 2007 Budget Act. Judge Elaine Brown concurred in result with Chief Judge John Baker in the appeal; Melissa May dissented, for the same reasons as she did in City of East Chicago v. East Chicago Second Century, Inc., 878 N.E.2d 358, 365-68 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007).

Foundations asked for transfer for the high court to decide whether the decision usurped the Gaming Commission's regulatory authority and the attorney general's power to investigate local development agreement issues on the commission's request; whether in holding East Chicago could "always" alter or terminate the agreement contravenes the Supreme Court's ruling in Zoeller v. East Chicago Second Century Inc., 904 N.E.2d 213 (Ind. 2009); and whether other issues involving the 2007 Budget Act merit the high court's review in resolving an overall controversy in which it has granted transfer in two related cases, one awaiting a decision. Foundations also questions whether the ruling in the instant case interferes with the high court's exclusive transfer jurisdiction and prior decisions that judgments are res judicata pending appeal until reversed.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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