ILNews

Woman evicted from apartment denied due process

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a woman was denied due process in small claims court when the court reporter presided over an initial hearing and ordered the woman to move out of her apartment.

Daniel Capps filed a small claims complaint against tenant Lisa Reynolds for ejectment, damages and rent. A trial date was set for Sept. 13, 2011. The complaint stated the claim would be heard by the court at a trial in Sullivan Superior Court.

No judge was present for the hearing; instead, it was conducted by the court reporter. No witnesses were sworn or evidence heard. The court reporter repeatedly said that evidence relating to the allegations would be heard later. The court reporter then gave Reynolds a pre-signed “initial hearing/judgment order” form requiring her to move out of the apartment.

At a damages hearing held by a judge Sept. 30, 2011, Reynolds was ordered to pay $975.

The appellate court was concerned that there was no transcript of the hearing and that the trial court judge, who was not present at the hearing, certified a statement of evidence for Reynolds from that hearing.

“It is an understatement to say that the hearing proceeded from the outset under the expectation that Capps was entitled to immediate possession of the premises,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Lisa Reynolds v. Daniel Capps, No. 77A05-1110-SC-567. “Even taking into account the informality of the small claims process, if the hearings on evictions are regularly conducted without a judicial officer present, we pointedly and directly express our concern and expect that situation to be remedied.”

The Sept. 13 hearing did not satisfy minimum due process requirements, including that a judge or someone authorized to do so preside over the hearing. Reynolds wasn’t allowed the opportunity to defend against the ejectment and then was given a pre-signed order. The judges reversed the trial court.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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