Murder appeal among 18 rejected by Indiana justices

The Indiana Supreme Court declined to hear almost all of the appeals before it last week, but did accept two medical malpractice cases it consolidated for the clarification of preferred venue.

Justices unanimously rejected 18 of 20 cases for the week ending June 28. Among the denied appeals is the case of Joe Paul Hambel v. State of Indiana18A-CR-686, in which Hambel murdered two people in a victim’s home after telling police he wanted to help “clean up the drug problem” in Washington County.

The high court also declined to hear argument in Sherry L. Barrand v. Gary W. Martin18A-JP-1796, a child support fight in which the Indiana Court of Appeal affirmed there was no mutual assent or agreement formed between the parents due to their differing viewpoints on essential language regarding Martin’s Social Security retirement benefits.

However, justices took up an issue of preferred venue by granting transfer to two medical malpractice cases dealing with preferred venue in Marion County. In a consolidated opinion, the justices affirmed one trial court and reversed another in Cynthia Morrison, individually and on behalf of Ernest Morrison, deceased v. Ricardo Vasquez, M.D., et al.; Indiana University Health Southern Indiana Physicians, Inc., et al. v. Charlene Noel, 19S-CT-382.

Both Morrison and Noel argued their cases should be heard in Marion County because the county was listed as the registered agent for their respective defendants. However, the high court affirmed the Marion Superior Court’s decision in Morrison and reversed the trial court’s decision in Noel, concluding that an organization’s principal office, not the location of its registered agent, is the appropriate preferred venue.

Justice Geoffrey Slaughter dissented in a separate opinion, stating that he would continue to follow the understanding of “principal office” that has “prevailed for nearly fifty years” and allow both women to proceed with their respective suits in Marion County.

A full list of the court’s transfer list can be viewed here.

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