Justices invite amicus curiae briefing in Lake Co. probation officers legal expense dispute

A debate over whether Lake County is responsible for paying legal expenses incurred by two probation officers in a federal lawsuit is pending on transfer before the Indiana Supreme Court, which has invited amicus curiae briefing in the case.

Upon being sued by probationer Lorena Bostic in 2015, the Lake County Board of Commissioners and others entered into an argument over who should foot the bill for probation officers Jan Parsons and Miroslav Radiceski, both named in Bostic’s federal complaint.

Indiana’s attorney general declined to represent Parsons and Radiceski, finding the county was responsible for their defense in the federal case, which is still pending.

The Marion Superior Court then declined Lake County’s motion for partial summary judgment on its filing for declaratory relief, as well as its request that the officers be deemed state employees. Instead, the trial court granted summary judgment to the state, the OAG, the Lake County Probation Department, the Lake Superior Criminal Court and the probation officers.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Lake County was responsible for paying the costs of its probation officers’ legal defense incurred in the performance of the officers’ duties.

Despite opposition from some appellees, the Lake County Board of Commissioners filed a transfer petition to the Indiana Supreme Court, prompting the justices to invite amicus curiae briefing on the pending transfer request.

“Pursuant to Appellate Rule 41, any entity wishing to prepare and file a brief as amicus curiae must file a motion for leave to appear as amicus and tender its proposed brief on or before Sept. 24, 2021,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in the Aug. 27 order. “The Court encourages the submission of joint briefs if similarly aligned entities seek to appear as amici.”

Submitted amicus briefs must not exceed 4,200 words, exclusive of the items listed in Appellate Rule 44(C), and must be accompanied by the verified statement of word count.

Single response briefs must be filed on or before Oct. 7, 2021 and should be no longer than 4,200 words, addressing any and all amicus briefs whose arguments its author may oppose. The briefs must also comply with Appellate Rule 44(C) and (F).

The case is Lake County Board of Commissioners and Lake County Council v. State of Indiana, Office of the Attorney General of the State of Indiana, Lake County Probation Department, Jan Parsons, in her official capacity as Director and Chief Probation Officer of felony Probation Department of the Superior Courts of Lake County, Criminal Division, et al.20A-MI-1527.

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