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Walkout creates uncertainty in House

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It’s been a controversial week at the Indiana General Assembly with the walkout by many Democrats in the House of Representatives killing several bills in their current forms as legislative deadlines hit.

The flight of the House Democrats to Illinois has caused Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, to adjourn until Monday. There is still uncertainty as to when the Democrats may return and if the House would be able to change the rules to move deadlines back a week. The House Rules Committee approved pushing back the deadline for the second and third reading of bills, but the proposal needs to be approved by a quorum on the floor, something that can’t happen until Democrats return.

The walkout hasn’t affected the Senate yet and work continued in that chamber. Several bills of interest to the legal community are now before the House. If the walkout continues, those bills could be affected. Wednesday was the last day for third reading of Senate bills.

Senate Bill 561, which deals with sentencing reform and made it out of the Senate Tuesday, looks to require violent criminals to serve more of their prison sentences. The bill’s “truth in sentencing” provision would ensure violent felons serve 85 percent of their assigned prison time. Right now, it’s only required that those charged with nine specific crimes – including Class A felony battery, rape, or child molesting – serve only 50 percent of their time.

The bill also encourages communities to house those convicted of D felonies and of minor crimes in local jails or work-release facilities. The goal is to avoid an overflow of inmates in the Department of Correction.

Another provision in the bill would require implementation of a better export program for dissemination of case information to clerks. Author Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said the current case management system doesn’t allow the download of bulk information.

Senate Bill 463, which would repeal or remove provisions that establish a mandatory retirement age for Superior and County Court judges, passed the Senate Feb. 17. Author Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, described the current law as discriminatory and outdated and said Indiana can’t keep losing valuable members of the judiciary to the statute.

“Allowing judges to serve past 70 helps preserve institutional knowledge and keep experienced courtroom managers on the bench. I look forward to working with House members on this important piece of legislation,” he said in a statement.

Senate Bill 97, on the funding of lawsuits, also passed the Senate last week. The bill deals with consumer legal funding. It has not yet been assigned to a House committee.

Also passing the Senate:
-    Senate Bill 96 that would add another deputy prosecutor in Cass County paid for by the state;
-    Senate Bill 212 on trial court jurisdiction;
-    Senate Bill 214 that would require the attorney general to make certain determinations before entering into a contingency fee contract with a private attorney;
-    Senate Bill 301, an automated record keeping fee, which proposed an increase in the fee to fund a statewide case management system. An amendment decreased the fee after July 1, 2011;
-    Senate Bill 346 on the statute of limitations for an environmental legal action;
-    Senate Bill 520 on application of foreign laws;
-    Senate Bill 530 on merging the offense of criminal deviate conduct into the crime of rape;
-    Senate Bill 540 on the discharge of long-term inmates; and
-    Senate Bill 590 on various immigration matters.
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On Feb. 17, the House passed House Bill 1266 that would establish unified Circuit courts in Clark and Madison counties. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Legislation has started making its way to Gov. Mitch Daniels. By Friday, he had signed two bills into law – SEA 32 on vote centers; and HEA 1450 on unemployment insurance.

A complete list of bills is available on the General Assembly’s website.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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