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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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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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