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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Update on "Court tosses challenge to hunter harassment law"

The Supreme Court has denied transfer in the case of a Beverly Shores couple's challenge to the state's hunter harassment law. Bob Kasarda of the NWI Times has a report on the denial today.

A check of the records shows the actual denial occurred April 13th and is listed on p. 3 of this transfer list - both the ILB and the NW Indiana papers failed to pick up on it at the time. The Clerk's docket shows the denial vote was 4-1, with Justice Sullivan voting to reveiw the case.

Today's story:

The Indiana Supreme Court has opted not to consider a Beverly Shores couple's challenge to the state's hunter harassment law.

Frederick and Rosanne Shuger now are considering taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the couple's Chicago attorney, James Morsch.

Morsch said to his knowledge, no state hunter harassment law has been argued before a state supreme court.

"I thought it would be a good case to take up," he said.

The Shugers were convicted in July 2005 of violating the state law by interfering with a town-sanctioned deer kill four years earlier in Beverly Shores.

Frederick Shuger, who also was found guilty by the jury of a more serious offense of intimidation, was sentenced to 15 days of community service and one year and four months of unsupervised probation.

Rosanne Shuger was sentenced to five days of community service and four months of probation.

The couple targeted a section of the law that prohibits behaviors "that will tend to disturb or otherwise affect the behavior of a game animal."

The wording is unconstitutional in that it is both over broad and vague, according to the couple's challenge to the Indiana Court of Appeals that was thrown out earlier this year.

"There is no objective description of what behavior would land you in trouble with the state," Morsch has said.

This clause places Indiana's law at the extreme when compared to most other hunter harassment statutes around the country, according to the appeal. If allowed to stand, the law will chill the expression of free speech.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the hunter protection law as constitutional, ruling it regulates only the place and manner of speech.

The Shugers had compared the Hunter Harassment Act to a law against flag burning that was struck down by the federal courts. That comparison does not apply, the appeals court ruled, because the hunter harassment law does not restrict the content of speech.

The ILB has had a number of earlier entries on this case - here is the list. See particularly this ILB entry from January 23, 2007.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 30, 2007 08:15 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions