« April 15, 2012 | Main | April 17, 2012 »

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stage Collapse - Indiana attorney blames Sugarland for stage collapse deaths

From WGN's story today, which includes links to three videos:

A northwest Indiana attorney is blaming the country duo Sugarland for the deaths of 7 and injuries of dozens of others at the Indiana State Fair last summer.

Ken Allen released new video from a deposition of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, Sugarland's lead singers.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Stage Collapse

Ind. Decisions - Transfer list for week ending April 12, 2012

[Search all the Transfer Lists: The ILB feature, "Search the ILB Transfer Lists," allows you to do just that, back to Feb. 2004. Check it out. Read the instructions. Note that the search is now current through the Feb. 24, 2012 list.]

Here is the Clerk's transfer list for the week ending Thursday, April 12, 2012. It is one page (and 10 cases) long.

One transfer was granted last week:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Indiana Transfer Lists

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court sets oral argument date for Garwood case

The Supreme Court has set oral argument for Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM in Virginia Garwood and Kristin Garwood v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, a case where the Court on March 16th granted a petition for review of a Tax Court decision by Judge Wentworth. See this long list of earlier ILB entries, the most recent, from Aug. 25, 2011, headed "Court rules state overstepped by taking dogs to recoup taxes."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Upcoming Oral Arguments

Ind. Decisions - "Wal-Mart ruling that quashed many class actions helps bolster Merrill Lynch broker's case: Victory in federal appeals court surprises many legal experts"

A long story today by Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune about a 7th Circuit decision from Feb. 24, 2012. A quote:

A three-judge appellate panel unanimously sided with McReynolds on Feb. 24. Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the opinion, said challenging the Merrill policies in a class action was not forbidden by the Wal-Mart case.

According to Posner, "permitting brokers to form their own teams and prescribing criteria for account distributions that favor the already successful — those who may owe their success to having been invited to join a successful or promising team — are practices of Merrill Lynch, rather than practices that local managers can choose or not at their whim."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 3 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

Whiskey Barrel Planters Co., Inc., n/k/a Diggs Enterprises, Inc., Robinson Family Enterprises, LLC, et al. v. American Gardenworks, Inc., and Millennium Real Estate Investment, LLC, a 23-page opinion by Judge Darden involving contract interpretation, concludes:

The trial court erred in denying Whiskey Barrel’s motion for partial summary judgment on Counts III and VII. The trial court also erred in determining that Ralph and Ann’s personal property was transferred to AGW under the Agreement and that the property had been abandoned by them. Finally, the record is insufficient to determine whether the trial court properly exercised its discretion in determining the amount of the attorney fee award and costs to AGW.

Reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

NFP civil opinions today (0):

NFP criminal opinions today (3):

Anthonly L. Cole v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Michael Earls v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Jason Russell Richardson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions

Stage Collapse - "The Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse: The Two Recommendations That Matter"

From a Houston Chronicle blog, Climate Abyss (Weather and climate issues with John Nielsen-Gammon, who is the Texas State Climatologist and a Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University), this post on April 12, 2012, following the release of the two engineering reports last week. A few quotes:

The news coverage I’ve seen so far completely misses one of the two key issues. Prominently featured, and a key element of the collapse, is the fact that the stage rigging, with all the concert equipment attached to it, could not withstand winds of 20-40 mph. The structure began collapsing when winds exceeded 33 mph, and wind gusts eventually maxed out at 59 mph. So the no-brainer recommendation (#1) is: build robust structures during severe weather season, even if they’re only temporary, if their collapse would be catastrophic. * * *

[T]he other recommendation that matters, here quoted verbatim from the Witt report: "The Indiana State Fair Commission should deploy a private weather forecasting service during the State Fair."

This applies, not just to Indiana, but to all events that involve potential exposure of large numbers of people to the consequences of severe weather. Private meteorologists can take the observations and general warning information provided by the NWS and match it up with the potential failure points and vulnerabilities of the event. While the NWS is worrying about severe weather across numerous counties, the private meteorologist can focus on one specific location and the specific types of severe weather that could cause problems. In turn, the event operators must define the weather criteria for taking action and then not relax those criteria when economic issues intervene. Are you listening, event operators?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Stage Collapse

Ind. Gov't. - Underneath the $526 million error "are hundreds of thousands of individual financial transactions and decades of statutes and politics."

Here are stories updating the April 12th ILB entry headed "Tomorrow is first meeting this year of State Budget Committee ...."

Underneath the $526 million error "are hundreds of thousands of individual financial transactions and decades of statutes and politics." So writes Tom LoBianco of the AP in a good story today, here in the Indianapolis Star. See also this story by LoBianco here in the April 14th Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. The two stories together give a good overview of the issues.

From a $$ story in the Bloomington Herald-Times this weekend by Dawn Hewitt:

State Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, met with the State Budget Committee Friday in Madison. Welch serves as an alternate member on the committee.

Two items on the agenda for discussion were the report following an internal review of the December discovery of a $320 million accounting error in the Indiana Department of Revenue, and the discovery of a programming error that inappropriately withheld $205 million in local option income tax funds from counties, announced last week.

Democrats on the budget committee in December had called for an external review of the “found” $320 million, but the motion failed.

“There were some there who thought there would be a lot of defensiveness coming from the state budget agency and Republican members of the budget committee,” Welch said, but that was not the case.

“It was a very congenial and warm discussion. There was no defensiveness, but, like, ‘we’ve got to fix this,’ and ‘how are we going to do this?’” she said.

The budget committee passed a motion calling for an external review of the two Department of Revenue problems.

“Everyone was on the same page that we need an external audit,” Welch said by telephone Friday.

“We strongly recommend that the State Budget Agency determine the parameters of the external review or audit,” she said, adding that she hopes members of the Legislature and their staff will be included in the process.

She said the State Budget Committee, which usually meets every two months, will convene again in May to hear the recommendations of the State Budget Agency and legislative staff on moving forward with an external audit.

“It’s important to get this done as soon as possible,” Welch said, since revenue forecasting will start in the fall.

See also this special to the Indianapolis Star from reporter Lesley Weidenbener. Some quotes:
A key figure in the Daniels administration said that ongoing examination is likely to turn up additional problems.

"There are indications there could be other areas" with mistakes, said Adam Horst, director of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the revenue department. "But it's too soon to know for sure yet. It's important we wait until the end to see what the results are."

The State Board of Accounts began reviewing the state income tax transactions after Daniels announced in December that a programming error had left $320 million in corporate income taxes sitting unused in an account. State examiners are now working to reconcile what Hoosiers and businesses have paid into the Department of Revenue over the past decade with what's been distributed to state and local governments.

The work could take weeks or months to finish, Horst said.

Then Horst announced a second major error last week. He acknowledged the state had shorted local governments $206 million in income tax payments over 14 months. That discovery led Daniels and GOP leaders to call for an outside audit, something Democrats had been pushing for months.

On Friday, the State Budget Committee -- a five-member group that includes Horst and four legislative fiscal leaders -- took the first steps toward that audit. The group asked Horst to begin collecting information from companies interested in conducting the audit and then bring the information back to the committee in May, where members hope to hire a company for the job.

"Legislative leaders have come around to the idea of an independent audit, but we need to make it a reality before the next budget cycle," said Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portgage, said after the meeting. "This isn't money between the cushions. We're talking about over a half billion dollars in mishandled taxpayer money."

Lawmakers said they want the audit to include a look at the Department of Revenue's information technology work as well as its operations. Rep. Bill Crawford of Indianapolis, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the audit needs to be thorough and take place soon.

"There could be mistakes occurring right now that have consequences," Crawford said. "We agree that this was not intentional. But the consequences -- whether this was intentional or unintentional -- are severe and we need to know what's happening."

Fiscal leaders said they also want to consider whether the state should implement systems for other types of regular internal and external audits. Currently, the State Board of Accounts conducts only financial audits. It does not consider operational, programming, compliance or efficiency issues, said state examiner Bruce Hartman.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Indiana Government

Ind. Gov't. - Still more on: Unslated judicial candidates (and others) file lawsuit against Marion County election boards

Updating earlier ILB entries, including this one linking to the complaint, the Indianapolis Star editorial today is headed "Give outsiders what insiders have." Some quotes:

Political parties have the right to anoint favored candidates in primary elections, even if the voting public has the right to feel unfairly limited in its choices.

Where the prerogative ends is where slated candidates enjoy an advantage courtesy of the public.

That is the heart of a matter involving five unslated candidates for office who are asking the Marion Circuit Court to grant them access to the county's voter registration database.

The candidates -- three for judgeships and two for state representative, one Republican and four Democrats -- contend that the Marion County Voter Registration Board has dragged its feet on their request for access because it is beholden to the parties, which appoint board members.

Time is of the essence for using the database to target likely voters for the May 8 primary. Slated candidates already have the data through their parties, which don't share with others.

The unslated candidates point out that the database is a public record compiled at taxpayer expense. The state Public Access Counselor has informally sided with them, but has advised that the Marion County Election Board adopt a policy ordering the registration board to act.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Indiana Government

Catch-up: What did you miss over the weekend from the ILB?

Below is the answer to "What did you miss over the weekend from the ILB?

But first, didn't you check the ILB a lot last week? Then please make the move to supporting the ILB, today!

From Sunday, April 15, 2012:

From Saturday, April 14th, 2012:

From Friday afternoon, April 13th, 2012:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Catch-up

Ind. Decisions - Upcoming oral arguments this week and next

This week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court (week of 4/16/12):

Friday, April 20th

Next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court (week of 4/23/12):

Webcasts of Supreme Court oral arguments are available here.

This week's oral arguments before the Court of Appeals (week of 4/16/12):

Monday, April 16th

Tuesday, April 17th

Thursday, April 19th

Next week's oral arguments before the Court of Appeals (week of 4/23/12):

Monday, April 23rd

Wednesday, April 25th

Thursday, April 26th

ONLY those Court of Appeals oral arguments presented in the Supreme or Court of Appeals Courtrooms will be accessible via videocast.

The past COA webcasts which have been webcast are accessible here.

NOTE: For a printable version of this list of upcoming oral arguments, click on the date in the next line. Then select "Print" from your browser.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted to Upcoming Oral Arguments