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Supreme Court grants 5 transfers

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Indiana's top jurists granted transfer Wednesday in five cases and will consider issues involving physicians who leave foreign objects in a patient's body, parental termination hearings conducted without the parent, timely court-filing deadlines, and the sentencing options courts have after probation violations.

In Russell Prewitt v. State of Indiana, No. 10A04-0610-CR-589, the Court of Appeals in April reversed a Clark County case in which the judge revised a sentence after the defendant violated his probation. The appellate judges held that the lower court only had the authority to use one of three statutory options, not two as it did in ordering him to serve two years of a previously suspended sentence and then to enter a state hospital on his release. The sentencing options a trial court has on probation violations now becomes a key issue in the latest appeal for justices to consider.

A second transfer came in Chi Yun Ho, M.D. v. Loretta M. Frye and Thomas Hoffman, Personal Representative of the Estate of Charles Frye, No. 67A01-0603-CV-122, which is a medical malpractice case from Putnam Circuit Court. During a 2000 procedure on Frye, Dr. Ho and the surgical nurse and technician reported he had retrieved the number of sponges used during the surgery. But in 2001, it was discovered a sponge had been left in her abdomen and she needed additional surgeries to remove it, an abscess, and to heal the wound. She eventually sued and ultimately accused the doctor of negligence for failing to remove the sponge; the trial court denied a motion for summary judgment. But on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial in that Frye was entitled to partial summary judgment because the doctor didn't carry his burden of proof.

Justices will also consider Erica Lockett v. Marion County Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., No. 49A02-0611-JV-995, which involves an involuntary parental termination hearing conducted in the absence of a mother. She claimed that violated her due process rights, and both the trial court and appellate judges found this didn't violate her rights.

The high court also granted transfer in State of Indiana v. Universal Outdoor, Inc., No. 49A05-0609-CV-536, involving a court-filing deadline for exceptions to appraisers' reports. The appeals court held in April that exceptions are timely if filed within 20 days of the filing of the appraisers' report but no later than 20 days after the county clerk sends notice of the report to the parties.

A fifth transfer came in Sophia Willis v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-06110-CR-982, which involved a Court of Appeals decision from May delving into the legal distinctions between corporal punishment and child battery. That appeal affirmed a Marion Superior Court judgment finding sufficient evidence to convict a mother for spanking her son with a belt or extension cord. (See separate Indiana Lawyer Daily story.)

The justices also granted transfer this morning in a sixth case but remanded it without an opinion to the Court of Appeals. That case, Melonee Cooper v. State, No. 26A05-0701-JV-55, involves parental rights and the timely notice of appeal. The appellate court had dismissed it in April, but the justices ruled they should not have done so and should consider issuing an order clarifying all briefing-related deadlines.
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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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