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IndyBar: IndyBar Service Plays a Supporting Role in Historic Oral Argument

May 4, 2016

By Josh Tatum, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP

On April 20, The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom, but this time the Court was also on the road. This argument took place in the original courtroom of the Hoosier State’s highest court, located in the first state Capitol building in Corydon. The argument commemorated the bicentennial of Indiana’s statehood in 1816. It also marked Justice Brent E. Dickson’s last argument as a justice, one of over 1,400 total over the former Chief Justice’s 30 years on the Court.

Appellants’ advocate, Andrew L. Teel of the Fort Wayne firm Halver and Colvin, practiced his argument before a panel of the Indiana Appellate Institute, a program of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section providing moot panels for lawyers arguing before Indiana’s appellate courts. The service is free to those who are presenting their first oral argument in any court and those representing an indigent or pro bono client and $500 for all others. Fees help fund the section’s activities, including scholarships to national appellate training and contributions to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

Teel applauded the Institute’s value, saying, “There is no question that I was more prepared and better equipped to address the justices’ questions thanks to the moot argument.”

Even though the surroundings were historical, the case was contemporary. Still, pioneer Hoosiers would recognize the themes. The question involved what duty a social host owed to guests at her home. The homeowner’s boyfriend, who lived there and bought a keg of beer with the host’s debit card, became involved in an altercation that eventually resulted in one of the party guest’s death. The Allen Superior Court granted the defendant social host summary judgement, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

For more information on the Indiana Appellate Institute, visit indybar.org/appellateinstitute.•

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