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What the attorney general is watching

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The session is about halfway over, but there are still several bills making their way through the General Assembly that the Indiana Attorney General's Office is watching.

The Attorney General's Office is typically neutral on the majority of bills that move through the legislature, but it does watch bills that may affect the office, such as bills dealing with the criminal justice system. The office also has two deputy attorneys general who are at the House and Senate every day as a resource for legislators and to advocate for bills that the AG's office supports or has a point of view on, AG public information officer Bryan Corbin said.

There are several bills moving this session that the AG's office does support. The centerpiece of the AG's legislative agenda this year is Senate Bill 405, a gaming bill. The office has interest in only one provision of the bill - the one that would provide transparency for Local Development Agreement entities that receive casino revenue. It stems from a situation in East Chicago in which a for-profit local development company receives a cut of casino money under a LDA. Because it's for-profit, there's no telling as to where the money went and has led to years of litigation.

"We feel this is a protection that the public needs to have transparency and accountability so you don't see the type of abuses that occurred in East Chicago occur in other places around the state," Corbin said.

That bill has made it out of the Senate and on to the House for consideration.

The AG's office is also interested in House Bill 1226, which will crack down on repeat offenders of Medicaid fraud. The bill will also clarify that the AG's office's ID theft unit is the one to call when someone discovers abandoned medical records or other records containing personal information. HB 1226 is before the Senate for consideration.

Another bill the attorney general is interested in is SB 394, which passed through the Senate and moved to the House. It would update state law so that local courts, instead of the parties, would have to notify the AG's office whenever a plaintiff files a declaratory-judgment suit seeking to declare a law unconstitutional. Corbin said there have been five or six cases over the last few years where someone had filed a constitutional challenge and the office didn't receive timely notice of it.

Another part of the bill would allow the attorney general to file an amicus brief in any lawsuit in the state without seeking the court's permission first. In the federal appellate court system, the attorney general has the right to file amicus briefs without seeking leave from the court first. Currently in Indiana, appellate rules require parties who wish to file an amicus brief, including the attorney general, receive permission from the court.

Corbin said the legislation attempts to have congruity between state and federal courts and that the office is pursuing the proposal first through a statutory change instead of through a rule change with the courts.

"No one can predict how often the AG's office would tender amicus briefs in Indiana trial court cases ... perhaps not very often. But the attorney general is the lawyer for state government, and so his legal argument could be useful and relevant to a trial court in a local case," he said.

SB 394 is in the House for consideration.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office also supports HB 1332, which deals with mortgage fraud, credit services, and property fraud; SB 356, a professional licensing bill; and HB 1083, which would allow property to be considered abandoned after three years and thus then can be reclaimed through the Unclaimed Property Program. These bills have moved through their respective houses and are in the other for consideration.

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  1. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  2. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  3. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  4. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  5. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

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