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Use of bench warrants still not certain

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Attorneys have settled a federal case that led to the Marion Superior Court scrapping its practice of issuing bench warrants for the arrest of people who'd failed to appear in civil cases, but a statewide investigation of whether state law allows judges to issue these warrants remains ongoing.

A settlement came March 30 in the case of Patrick Thompson v. Marion County Sheriff's Office, et al, 1:08-CV-00481, which arose from the man's August 2007 arrest. Thompson was detained for five days in the Marion County Jail after being arrested on a bench warrant for not appearing at a child support hearing about three years earlier. He told police he'd thought the child support case involving his then-17-year-old child was finished and closed.

The case tied in to a similar one that Indianapolis firm Waples & Hanger had filed in the Southern District of Indiana, and both prompted U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson to review the practice concerning bench warrants.

The Marion Superior Court's four-judge executive committee investigated the process and in January recalled about 4,100 bench warrants in civil cases, turning to a new policy that urges the use of body attachments requiring multiple notification steps. A body attachment requires that when people fail to show up for a hearing or ignore a court order, they must be given a second chance to attend and explain themselves. It also allows them to pay the amount due and be released immediately.

The second part of the settlement involves Indianapolis paying Thompson $67,5000, according to a news release from Waples & Hanger.

In February, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi asked Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to weigh in on the issue with an advisory opinion. No opinion has been issued, and a spokesman for the state office couldn't be reached to comment on the status of that.

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  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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