Thursday, April 26, 2012
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court suspends Charlie White
In the Matter of Charles P. White, filed April 25, is a one page "order of interim suspension upon notice of guilty finding." A quote:
The Court, being duly advised and upon careful consideration of all materials submitted, now finds that Respondent has been found guilty of the following offenses under Indiana law: Submission of a False, Fictitious, or Fraudulent Registration Application, a class D felony; two counts of Perjury, a class D felony; Voting Outside a Precinct of Residence, a class D felony; Procuring, Casting, or Tabulating a False, Fictitious, or Fraudulent Ballot, a class D felony; and Theft, a class D felony.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Respondent is suspended pendente lite from the practice of law in this State, effective fifteen (15) days from the date of this order.
Ind. Law - "He was inspired by the character of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird to practice law"
The New Albany News and Tribune today published this letter to the editor from Attorney General Greg Zoeller about the legal career of his late cousin, Indianapolis defense attorney Christopher C. Zoeller, who died recently at age 62. The letter begins:
Recently the Zoeller family and friends gathered to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of my cousin, Chris Zoeller, a New Albany native who was well known in the courts of Marion County as a criminal defense lawyer. He was a somewhat larger-than-life personality who created memories with everyone with whom he came in contact.Here is the obituary published in the Indianapolis Star on April 18.
Ind. Courts - Marion County Small Claim Court Task Force report to be released May 1st
From an Ind. Courts press release:
The Task Force created to evaluate the Marion County Small Claims Courts will release its findings to the public. The findings describe serious problems in the management and procedures found by the task force. The report includes three recommended plans of action designed to address the identified problems. The written report will be made public at a press conference on May 1st. A copy of the report and appendix will also be made available at the Supreme Court Law Library at the State House and online.That is Tuesday, May 1st at 2:30 p.m. at the Marion Circuit Court.
The Indiana Supreme Court created the Task Force in January 2012 to investigate whether litigants in the Marion County small claims courts are denied access to justice that is provided to the litigants in all other Indiana counties. The Task Force also looked into allegations that township trustees exert control over the courts’ financial and personnel matters in a manner that threatens judicial independence.
More than 200 local residents attended public hearings in Perry Township, Pike Township and at the Marion Circuit Court in February and March. About 50 individuals – including collection attorneys, landlords, tenants, small claims defendants, law students, pro bono attorneys and a state senator – testified before the Task Force.
Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Senior Judge Betty Barteau co-chaired the task force. The judges are submitting an approximately 30-page report to the Indiana Supreme Court, the Court’s Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, and to Marion County Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg. Any changes to the management or procedures in the courts would need to be approved by the Indiana Supreme Court, while any changes to the structure of these courts must be authorized by the Indiana General Assembly.
Here are earlier ILB entries.
Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 0 today (and 4 NFP)
For publication opinions today (0):
NFP civil opinions today (1):
NFP criminal opinions today (3):
Law - "Duncan Law Gets 5-Year Extension amid Bid for ABA Accreditation"
Recall the NYT stories late last year about Duncan Law School in Knoxville, Tenn., and its efforts to obtain ABA approval?
Sam Favate reported yesterday in the WSJ Law Blog that:
A Tennessee state board gave Lincoln Memorial University’s law school a five-year extension to get accreditation from the American Bar Association, a move that allows the school’s students to sit for the Tennessee bar exam through December 2017, Knoxville News reported. * * *
Tennessee is one of a few states that allows students to sit for the state bar exam without graduating from an ABA-approved school, requiring instead that the school be accredited by the state’s Board of Law Examiners, according to KnoxNews.
Law - "Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept."
That was the headline to a lengthy major story by Spencer S. Hsu, published April 16th in the Washington Post. It was one of a packet of related stories that day. The story begins:
Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.Writing about the WAPO story yesterday, Michael R. Bromwich of Main Justice has a list of "specific steps can and should be taken," including:
Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.
In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.
As a result, hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects.
Evidence of flawed forensic analysis and testimony must be brought to the attention of defense counsel and not left to the discretion of prosecutors. Prosecutors have a vested interest in preserving the convictions they obtained. They should not sit as judge and jury in determining whether flawed analysis or testimony should be shared with defense counsel. The information must be shared.
Ind. Courts - "Recordings of court proceedings made by court reporters are public records"
Here is an informal opinion from Joseph B. Hoage, Indiana Public Access Counselor, dated Jan. 26, 2012.
The issue involved the Dubois County Circuit Court. Some quotes:
You submitted an inquiry to the Court about obtaining a copy of a transcript for the trial held under Cause No. 19-C01-1108-MI-0298. The court reporter provided that a transcript did not exist, only a digital audio recording. The recording was stored on a computer hard drive, to which a copy of the file existed on CD. Depending on the Court’s schedule, attorneys were allowed to listen to the file; all other individuals were ordinarily not granted access. The estimated cost to obtain a transcript of the trial would be $1125 and would take as long as thirty days to produce. The court reporter advised that it does not make copies of the CDs containing the audio recordings.The opinion then quotes at length from The Indiana Supreme Court’s Public Access to Court Records Handbook (“Handbook”). The section quoted begins:
You note that one segment of the trial was closed to the public. As a plaintiff, you were allowed under the requirement of confidentiality, to remain and hear the testimony declared confidential. With the possible exception to the segment of the trial declared confidential, you believe that the audio recording of the trial is a public record and should be disclosed in response to an APRA request. You allege that refusal by the Court to provide you with access to or a copy of the audio recording of the trial constituted a violation of the APRA.
Recordings of court proceedings made by court reporters are public records regardless of whether they are produced on magnetic recording tape, compact disk, stenotype, shorthand or digitally recorded upon a computer hard drive unless the specific case type is confidential under Administrative Rule 9. See AR 9(C)(2) regarding the definition of “case record” and AR 9 (D)(4) regarding access to audio and video recordings of proceedings. The public has the right to obtain the record within a reasonable period of time after making the request.From the conclusion of the 4-page opinion:
The Handbook provides that creating a copy of the audio record is probably the most efficient and least time consuming method to provide public access. The court reporter indicated that a copy of the hearing existed on hard drive and CD. If the Court is able to make a copy of the CD, the recording is not declared confidential, and providing the recording complies with the Court’s management of its audio recording pursuant to AR 9(D)(4) and Indiana Judicial Conduct Rule 2.17, it may do so. The Court may also issue in conjunction with providing a copy of the CD an order specifically limiting its use and barring the recipient from broadcasting the received record in any manner. The Court would further be allowed to charge you a fee pursuant to IC 5-14-3-8.