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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court holds Three Strikes Law unconstitutional

In Eric D. Smith v. Indiana Dept. of Correction, et al, a 15-page, 3-2 opinion, Justice Boehm writes:

In 2004, Indiana enacted a “Three Strikes Law” providing that an inmate “may not file a complaint” if the inmate has filed three prior lawsuits that were dismissed as frivolous under the “Frivolous Claim Law.” Other jurisdictions seek to curb litigant abuses by imposing conditions on lawsuits by “frequent filers.” Indiana’s Three Strikes Law goes further and purports to close the courthouse door altogether. We hold that this legislation violates the Open Courts Clause of the Indiana Constitution. * * *

The trial court’s order dismissing Smith’s complaint under the Three Strikes Law is reversed. This case is remanded to the trial court to address whether complaint should be dismissed under the Frivolous Claim Law.

Dickson and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Shepard, C.J., dissents with separate opinion.
Sullivan, J., dissents with separate opinion.

In James H. Higgason, Jr. v. Indiana Dept. of Correction, a 4-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Boehm writes:
For the reasons given in Smith v. Indiana Department of Correction, No. 49S02-0804-CV-166, __ N.E.2d __ (Ind. April 9, 2008), also decided today, we agree with Higgason and Judge Sullivan that the Three Strikes Law violates the Open Courts Clause of the Indiana Constitution. Higgason’s claim may not be dismissed solely because of his earlier litigation.
James H. Higgason, Jr. v. Indiana Dept. of Correction - same reasoning.

James H. Higgason, Jr. v. Indiana Dept. of Correction - same reasoning.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 9, 2008 02:02 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions