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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Indiana justice challenged over contentious ruling "

Charles Wilson of the AP has this story this evening. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Supreme Court justice who wrote a ruling that set off a public uproar and provoked legislators into passing a new state law faces rare opposition in a routine retention vote.

Justice Steven David must pass a simple yes-or-no vote in the Nov. 6 election to keep his seat on the state’s highest court. Experts say Indiana judges survive them more often than not.

ILB: Actually, "more often than not" is incorrect. Every Indiana Supreme justice and Court of Appeals judge who has stood for retention since the Indiana Constitution was amended to impose the "yes-or-no" requirement in 1970 has been approved handily. The story does say that, further down:
David’s detractors face an uphill battle: Political experts say no justice has been removed from the high court since Indiana’s constitution was amended in 1970 to require them to win periodic retention votes.

“Since then, everybody has been retained, and usually by large margins,” said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Joel Schumm, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, said votes in favor of retaining justices historically are around 70 percent.

Both said concerted efforts to remove a particular justice are rare. Downs said this drive is unusual in its single-mindedness and the fact that it’s apparently backed by a political organization.

Even so, Downs said, “this will have to be an incredibly well-coordinated campaign.”

The state Supreme Court’s ruling on May 12, 2011, involved a case in which an Evansville man blocked and then shoved a police officer who tried to enter his home without a warrant after the man’s wife called 911 during an argument. The man was shocked with a stun gun and arrested.

His wife told officers her husband hadn’t hit her, but he was convicted of resisting law enforcement. The justices narrowly upheld that conviction.

Following the decision, penned by David, opponents sent a blizzard of emails to state officials, protested at the Statehouse and threatened the justices.

Lawmakers also reacted strongly, passing a bill this year that specifies that the state’s self-defense law shelters residents who reasonably believe force is necessary to protect themselves, someone else or their own property from unlawful actions by a public servant. Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill in March.

“Even if you disliked his decision, the law has changed, so the decision is moot,” Downs said.

David was appointed to the court by Daniels about two years ago. If retained, David won’t face another retention vote for 10 years. He is one of two state Supreme Court justices up for retention this November.

Schumm said people shouldn’t base their vote on a single ruling.

“Overall, I think his decisions have been very mainstream, middle of the road,” Schumm said. “I hope that people can consider the body of what he’s done.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 11, 2012 07:16 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts