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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 Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, described the current law as discriminatory and outdated and said Indiana can’t keep losing valuable members of the judiciary to the statute.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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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