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Trial that OK’d Jasper energy plant conversion error-filled

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A judge who ruled against opponents of the conversion of a former coal-fired energy plant in Jasper abused her discretion on a series of matters, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Monday in reversing a bench trial that found for the city.

The appellate panel stopped short of saying that there were clear violations of the Indiana Open Door Law by the city or its “volunteer” board dominated by city official that met frequently with representatives of a company that won the city’s endorsement of a proposal to convert a dormant coal-fired plant to a biomass-burning plant.

A citizens group called Healthy Dubois County formed to oppose the project because of concern that burning miscanthus grass to produce electricity could carry public health risks. It sued in an attempt to block the signing of any agreements on the plant conversion, claiming among other things that officials had violated the Open Door Law with meetings that led to approval of the proposal.

In Dr. Norma Kreilein, Rock Emmert, and Healthy Dubois County, Inc. v. Common Council of the City of Jasper and Jasper Utility Board, 19A04-1201-MI-51, the appeals court found that Special Judge M. Lucy Goffinet in Dubois Circuit Court had erred in denying HDC’s amended motions after discovery yielded more avenues through which discovery could occur.

“In sum, HDC has demonstrated that it was diligent in pursuing discovery, but was thwarted for months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate. Less than two weeks prior to trial, HDC obtained information in the course of depositions that suggested possible Open Door Law violations by the volunteer group. The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint, filed only four months after its initial complaint and while discovery was ongoing,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel.

“The trial court abused its discretion when it denied HDC’s motion to continue the trial. We reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court: (1) grant HDC’s third motion to amend its complaint; (2) grant HDC an additional thirty days to conduct new discovery, including but not limited to depositions; (3) grant HDC’s second motion to compel discovery; and (4) schedule a new trial to be held no less than thirty days after the close of discovery.”

The panel also noted the unusually swift nature of the bench trial. In a footnote, Najam wrote, “Our research has not revealed any cases involving the Open Door Law where the time between the filing of the complaint and trial was so abbreviated.”  
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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