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Monday, February 13, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 2 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Bloomington Magazine, Inc. v. Mark Kiang d/b/a Mikado Restaurant, Sunbeam Corp., and Truffles 56 Degrees Incorporated, a 12-page opinion, Judge Brown writes:

The crux of Bloom's contention is that Attorney Grodner's position as chairman of Judge Haughton's 2008 election campaign presented a situation such that her impartiality during trial might reasonably be questioned, that her failure to disclose this information in advance of trial was to be the subject of the December 2, 2010 hearing on Bloom's Motion to Set Aside, and that accordingly she should have granted its Motion to Recuse in advance of that hearing. In evaluating whether Judge Haughton abused her discretion in denying Bloom's motion, we find certain cases, discussed below, instructive. * * *

Here, we find that the professional relationship between Judge Haughton and Attorney Grodner, in which Grodner served as the chairman of Judge Haughton's 2008 election committee, was not so remote in time so as to dispel the appearance of an impropriety such that a reasonable person would have a rational basis for doubting her impartiality. We find particularly relevant that Grodner's appearance in this matter was filed in February 2009, which was three months following the election at issue. Despite the fact that the Motion to Recuse was filed in August 2010, that motion requested recusal from a Trial Rule 60(B) hearing concerning Judge Haughton's failure to recuse herself from a hearing taking place months earlier, in November 2009, at which Attorney Grodner had represented Kiang. Also, the chronological case summary reveals that following the filing of his appearance and leading up to the bench trial, Grodner filed documents in this matter in Judge Haughton's court in March 2009, April 2009, June 2009, and August 2009. We also note that the Motion to Recuse itself was filed within two years of the 2008 election.

Thus, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Bloom's Motion to Recuse from hearing the Motion to Set Aside, and accordingly we remand for a hearing on Bloom's Motion to Set Aside to be heard by a special judge in accordance with Ind. Trial Rule 79.

For the foregoing reasons, we reverse the court's denial of Bloom's Motion to Recuse, and we remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

NFP civil opinions today (0):

NFP criminal opinions today (2):

Ayoade Adewopo v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Rashad A. Bentley v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 13, 2012 12:39 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions