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Friday, February 24, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Still more on: SCOTUS grants cert in: Homeowners' Lose Sewer Suit Against City

There are TWO BIG oral arguments next Wednesday. Not only the Charlie White civil case, being argued before our Indiana Supreme Court (see this ILB entry for summary and documents), but Armour v. Indianapolis, being argued before the SCOTUS. (See this ILB entry for links to all the documents in that appeal.)

Today the Indianapolis Star has posted a lengthy story by Maureen Groppe, Gannett Washington Bureau, on the Armour appeal, headed "Before Supreme Court, Indianapolis to defend charging different amounts for sewers." It begins:

WASHINGTON -- Whether the good fortune of some Indianapolis homeowners who saved themselves thousands of dollars simply by putting off paying a bill is unconstitutionally unfair will be debated by the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday.

The city of Indianapolis will defend the fact that some residents paid $9,278 for a sewer hookup while others in the same neighborhood paid only $309.

That happened because the city forgave outstanding balances owed by some homeowners in the Northern Estates subdivision for a 2003 sewer project when the city later switched to a new funding system.

Indianapolis argues that officials chose a rational way to transition to the new system and the city's action was no different from countless other government amnesty or forgiveness programs.

Organizations representing state and local government officials across the country have asked the Supreme Court to side with Indianapolis.

But homeowners who paid the full price for their sewer hookup argue the city violated their constitutional right to be treated equally and they deserve a refund.

Taxpayer-right groups back the homeowners, as did a Marion County court and the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Indiana Supreme Court sided with Indianapolis last year. * * *

In a separate suit by homeowners filed in federal court, a federal judge in Indianapolis ruled in 2010 that the city violated the equal-protection clause. The opposing conclusions reached by the federal judge and by the Indiana Supreme Court may be a reason the U.S. Supreme Court decided to get involved.

ILB: This is the first I've heard of a federal suit; would like to post.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions

Courts - More on "Keep Your Hands off My Briefs: Lawyers Sue Westlaw, Lexis"

Updating yesterday's ILB entry, Law Librarian Blog has a good post today. Some quotes:

Two lawyers have opened a can of copyright worms by filing a class action suit against West and Lexis for using briefs in the brief banks sold by their respective companies. They allege that these documents are copyrighted by attorneys and seek damages, the amounts depending on whether the works are registered or not registered. * * *

[S]ome questions come immediately to mind. The first is who actually owns the work. I understand the registration, but lawyers being lawyers and the smell of money enticing, will there be clients intervening claiming the document was a work for hire?

[More] See also this post by Eugene Volokh headed "Do Lexis and Westlaw Infringe Copyright When They Post Briefs Filed in Court?." A sample:
The question is whether the commercial posting of the briefs is fair use; and fair use law is, as usual, vague enough that there’s no clear answer. I do think that the posting is quite valuable to researchers and to others who are trying to figure out what actually happened in a case, and why courts reached the results they did, and I think courts can consider this social value in the fair use analysis. It’s also quite unlikely that allowing such posting would materially diminish the incentive to write good briefs, or the market value of a good brief; that too is potentially relevant to the fair use inquiry.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to General Law Related

Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - Videos of finalists

The ISBA has now posted the videos of JNC's interviews of the three candidates selected as finalists (slow to load):

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 9 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In CFS, LLC and Charles Blackwelder v. Bank of America, Successor in Interest to LaSalle Bank Midwest National Association , a 7-page opinion, Judge Bailey writes:

[CFS appeals the Bank's foreclosure.] CFS presents a single, consolidated issue: whether summary judgment was improvidently granted. We affirm. * * *

CFS alleges that the trial court granted summary judgment only upon improperly considering new evidence submitted upon motion to correct error. * * *

Rather than a factual dispute, the trial court struggled with a legal issue: whether a successor bank surviving after merger could enforce the note and mortgage of the predecessor. * * *

In light of this authority, and the uncontroverted averments of the complaint and affidavit of debt, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Bank. * * *

The Bank established that there exists no genuine issue as to a material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

NFP civil opinions today (3):

Sasha Slater v. Ridinger Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Shakamak IGA (NFP)

T.W.O. f/k/a T.L.W. v. G.A.W. (NFP)

In Re: Levi Jacob Loucks Testimonial Trust and James M. Loucks, Trustee; Angel M. Lepley v. Levi J. Loucks (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (6):

Undray D. Wilson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Jeremy D. Stone v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Danny W. Ramsey v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Antoine L. Skinner v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Zachery Lewis v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Henry A. Booker v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions

Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - Scuttlebutt re Governor's appointment process

The ILB has heard (for what it's worth) that the Governor intends to act quickly this time in making his appointment, rather than taking his full 60 days.

Indiana Legislative Insight for Feb. 27th includes this item:

Expect the Governor's counsel, Anita Samuel to sit down with each, and one of the homework assignments may be to evaluate three out-of-state appellate opinions to help her and the Governor get a handle on their respective judicial philosophies, and assess how "activist" they might be if appointed to the bench.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012

Ind. Gov't. - Glossary of Indiana legislative terms

The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus has made available online a useful Glossary of Legislative Terms. A sample:

Germane/Germaneness: Relevance of amendment to subject matter of the bill to which it is being proposed.

Gerrymandering: Drawing legislative district boundary lines to obtain partisan or factional advantages.

Grandfather Clause: A provision exempting persons or other entities already engaged in an activity from new rules or legislation affecting that activity. Grandfather clauses sometimes are added to legislation to avoid antagonizing groups with established interests in the activities affected.

Gut a Bill: Striking everything after the enacting clause of a bill and inserting entirely new material.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Indiana Government

Ind. Gov't. - Ind. Election Commission meeting Friday

Re: Marathon meeting of Indiana Election Commission set for Friday in House Chambers. Will be live streamed. Here is the massive agenda.

That was from Wed. Word Thurs. was that it won't be live-streamed after all; that Speaker Bosma nixed the broadcasting of the public meeting.

This morning I'm hearing both that will and will not be streaming online. Whatever, the ILB can't see it at either the regular House video link or via other links I've been told about.

Mary Beth Schneider ‏ @marybschneider of the Star is tweeting it.

[More] Several people had sent me notes saying they can see video, but no audio, at this link: http://t.co/53etEe3H.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Indiana Government

Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - Press reports of selection of finalists

"3 finalists are selected for Indiana Supreme Court," report Bill McCleeryand William J. Booher here in the Indianapolis Star.

"Former Press reporter among finalists for Indiana Supreme Court," is the heading to a story today, featuring Mark Massa, by Eric Bradner of the Evansville Courier & Press.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "DNR raids Clay County hunting preserve" [Updated]

Updating this ILB entry from Feb. 4 headed "Fenced hunting never really dead," and this one from Feb. 1st headed "Fenced hunting dead; how about bill allowing silencers for hunters?," Heather MacWilliams of Fox 59 reported last evening in a story and video headed "DNR raids Clay County hunting preserve: A Clay County hunting preserve could be shut down after the Department of Natural Resources raided the property Thursday." Some quotes:

A Clay County hunting preserve could be shut down after the Department of Natural Resources raided the property Thursday.

The raid followed a year-long investigation. The investigation found that the owners would let its clients hunt outside the preserve's limits, hunt off-season and even provide them with illegal weaponry.

The emergency raid took place at the Prairie Grove Hunting Preserve located six miles south of Brazil, Ind.

[Updated] Here is the WISH-TV story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted to Indiana Government