Indiana Lawyer’s top story of 2018 began inside an Indianapolis bar in the cool early-morning hours of Thursday, March 15. Attorney General Curtis Hill had had a few drinks. A few too many, several witnesses would later claim.
A law slipped into the 2017 budget bill during the General Assembly’s final hours declared that information about drugs that the state would use to execute someone was confidential. The last-minute law was written into the bill even though a judge had ruled months earlier that the very same information was a matter of public record and had ordered the Department of Correction to provide it.
The closing of 4-year-old Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne, and the revelation that 138-year-old Valparaiso University Law School faced an uncertain future, made law school troubles the top legal news story of 2017, as determined by the staff of Indiana Lawyer. Changes on the federal and state bench also were among the year's top stories.
A man who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for fatally shooting a northwestern Indiana police officer in 2014 has withdrawn his effort to challenge his conviction. Carl Le’Ellis Blount filed a petition last year alleging Lake County prosecutors threatened him to get him to plead guilty to murder in the shooting death of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield, but he asked to withdraw his petition in April.
Death row inmates Patrick Murphy and Domineque Ray each turned to courts recently with pleas to stop their executions if their desired spiritual advisers couldn't accompany them into the execution chamber. The Supreme Court allowed Ray’s execution to go forward, but gave Murphy a temporary reprieve Thursday night.
The Supreme Court was about to adjourn for the day when the Georgia baritone politely inquired of the lawyer at the lectern. Justice Clarence Thomas was breaking a three-year silence at high court arguments with a couple of questions in a case about racial discrimination in the South.
Indianapolis attorneys had spent years — one nearly two decades — trying to secure justice for Domineque Ray, an inmate on Alabama’s death row. Their efforts were defeated Feb. 7, when Ray was executed before their eyes.
Curtis Flowers has been jailed in Mississippi for 22 years, even as prosecutors couldn’t get a murder conviction against him to stick through five trials. This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether his conviction and death sentence in a sixth trial should stand or be overturned for a familiar reason: because prosecutors improperly kept African-Americans off the jury.
A long legal fight over whether a Texas death row inmate could be executed ended Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 59-year-old man is intellectually disabled and thus cannot be put to death.
A lawsuit naming Gov. Eric Holcomb filed on behalf of a prisoner on Indiana’s death row urges a state court to issue an injunction halting capital punishment and rule that the state’s ultimate criminal penalty violates the Indiana Constitution.