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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ind. Courts - Who will replace Magistrate Graham who replaced Judge Rush who replaced Justice Sullivan on the Supreme Court?

The answer (from the Lafayette Journal Courier this afternoon):

Lafayette lawyer Crystal A. Sanders has been named the new Tippecanoe County juvenile court magistrate, it was announced today.

Sanders will succeeded Faith A. Graham, who was picked by Gov. Mitch Daniels earlier this month to replace Loretta H. Rush who was appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court in September.

Sanders is a 2003 Purdue University graduate. She earned her law degree from Indiana University Law School-Indianapolis in 2007.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to Indiana Courts

Law - "A suburban New York newspaper is under fire from conservatives and gun rights advocates after publishing the names and addresses - and a locator map of people who possess pistol permits in several suburban counties"

That is the headline to this Dec. 25th story in Politico, reported by Katie Glueck.

First, some Indiana background. This Jan. 27, 2010 ILB entry quoted from a Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorial about a bill then pending in the General Assembly (the bill later became law):

House Bill 1068 would seal a public record, an act that almost never serves the public. The bill would make permits to carry handguns a private record, no longer open to the public. These are not “gun permits”; these are licenses that specifically allow people to carry handguns in public. Such permits are not necessary to carry rifles or shotguns, nor are they needed to have a handgun in your home.

The move comes after the Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Times published information about gun permits. Notably, neither paper published the names and addresses of permit holders – the information the gun lobby says should be secret. The Star’s story, in fact, illustrated exactly why the permits should be a public record: It found numerous instances where the carry permits were wrongly issued to convicted felons or unwisely issued over the recommendations of local police chiefs and sheriffs.

Supporters of the law want to deny the scrutiny that could uncover future cases where convicted felons get permits to carry concealed handguns. And gun rights advocates should note that public scrutiny of records can also guard against people being wrongly denied carry permits.

The Jan. 27, 2010 ILB entry also quoted from a story by Mary Beth Schneider in the Indianapolis Star headed "House OKs bill to keep gun permits secret."
House Bill 1068, which was authored by Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, was prompted by databases published in The Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Times. Those databases did not identify gun permit holders by name or address, but did allow people to search their ZIP code to see the number of permits held in that area.

The Star used the gun permit information to investigate the state’s process for issuing them, learning that violent individuals were granted permits, sometimes against the wishes of local police departments.

The Jan. 27, 2010 ILB entry also contain a link to the original Oct. 11, 2009 Star investigative story by Mark Alesia, Heather Gillers, Tim Evans and Mark Nichols, headed "Should these Hoosiers have been allowed to carry a gun in public?" The Star story is still accessible here (although slow to load); but the gun permit database itself evidently is no longer available. The Bloomington Herald-Times database is still available, to subscribers.

This ILB update on Feb. 14, 2010 quoted from an Indianapolis Star editorial:

Tuesday, the Indiana House resoundingly passed a bill to deny the press and public access to the public records from which The Star learned that Indiana State Police routinely grant gun permits to individuals known for violence. State law allows for the denial of permits, local police often object to the granting of them, and those who get them sometimes go on to commit crimes.

The newspaper would not have learned this without entree to the total gun permit archive, with its names and addresses. The Star, in its online database, did not publish those names and addresses; only general information about gun permits by race, gender, age and ZIP Code.

That was enough, some lawmakers have said, to scare and even outrage them as to the endangerment of privacy, Second Amendment rights and life itself. Gun owners and non-owners alike bombarded them with pleas to keep the bad guys from knowing who might have a gun in his house and who might be unarmed, supporters of secrecy declare.

Far fewer have spoken up for the cause of open and responsible government. No one thus far has proposed a legislative inquiry into lax enforcement of a legislative mandate governing deadly weapons.

Okay, now back to the present and yesterday's Politico story, which reports:
A suburban New York newspaper is under fire from conservatives and gun rights advocates after publishing the names and addresses - and a locator map of people who possess pistol permits in several suburban counties.

“The newspaper didn’t even feel it necessary to publish a rationale for that violation of privacy — publishing the names and addresses of gun owners makes them more vulnerable to robbery when they aren’t at home, since criminals will know where the guns are,” charged Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com.

The story, published by the White Plains-based Journal News and posted on its website, LoHud.com, includes maps of Westchester county to the north of New York City and Rockland county to the north west — with the names and addresses of people with gun licenses represented by dots — on which readers can click to learn that information. It was posted over the weekend.

“Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so,” the newspaper cautioned, and noted that the information was the result of Freedom of Information Act requests. * * *

In a separate piece, the Journal News cited the interest readers might have in public information about gun owners.

“In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and amid renewed nationwide calls for stronger gun control, some Lower Hudson Valley residents would like lawmakers to expand the amount of information the public can find out about gun owners,” wrote the paper’s Dwight R. Worley. “About 44,000 people in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam — one out of every 23 adults — are licensed to own a handgun.”

But that didn’t resonate with some outraged readers, who posted scathing comments at the bottom of the piece, via accounts linked to Facebook.

“This is CRAZY!!” wrote Curtis Maenza. “why in the world would you post every licensed gun owner information?? What do you hope to accomplish by doing this. This is the type of thing you do for sex offenders not law abiding gun owners. What next? should i hang a flag outside my house that says I own a gun? I am canceling my subscription with your paper today!!!”

Here is the White Plains NY Journal News overview, along with the maps, as published Dec. 22nd. Here is the accompanying story by Dwight R. Worley. Some quotes:
In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and amid renewed nationwide calls for stronger gun control, some Lower Hudson Valley residents would like lawmakers to expand the amount of information the public can find out about gun owners. About 44,000 people in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam — one out of every 23 adults — are licensed to own a handgun.

Anyone can find out the names and addresses of handgun owners in any county with a simple Freedom of Information Law request, and the state’s top public records expert told The Journal News last week that he thinks the law does not bar the release of other details. But officials in county clerk’s offices in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam maintain the public does not have a right to see such things as the specific permits an individual has been issued, the types of handguns a person possesses or the number of guns he or she owns — whether one or a dozen.

Combined with laws that allow the purchase of rifles and shotguns without a permit, John Thompson, a program manager for Project SNUG at the Yonkers Family YMCA, said that leaves the public knowing little about the types of deadly weapons that might be right next door.

“I would love to know if someone next to me had guns. It makes me safer to know so I can deal with that,” said Thompson, whose group counsels youths against gun violence. “I might not choose to live there.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to General Law Related

Ind. Courts - "Sketches evidence of court reporter's keen eye"

Great story this weekend by Sophia Voravong of the Lafayette Journal Courier about the late 1960s-early 1970s courtroom sketches made by Jane Moore, a former Tippecanoe County court reporter. The story notes that "Since Moore’s death in 2002, the drawings have been stored in two photo albums [Tippecanoe Circuit Court Judge Don] Daniel keeps in his chambers."

[ILB: These sound like something the Indiana Courts and/or Historical Bureau might scan and post online, along with historical notes.]

From the story:

there are still some places where handheld technology is of little use.

Most of Indiana’s county courtrooms, for instance.

Though attorneys can have access to laptops, projectors and monitors, and some courtrooms video-record daily proceedings, cameras of any kind remain prohibited. That includes cellphones.

For Tippecanoe Circuit Court Judge Don Daniel, it makes the hundreds of vintage courtroom sketches — started in 1968 by Jane Moore, a former court reporter in Tippecanoe Superior Court 1, according to a Jan. 31, 1974, Journal & Courier article — that he holds onto all the more valuable.

Moore’s drawings are mostly headshots of attorneys and defendants, with a sprinkle of sketches of jurors in the jury box, done in the late 1960s and early ‘70s on pieces of scratch paper, roughly the size of a small notepad.

Most court reporters in Indiana courtrooms do not record proceedings by hand using stenography equipment. Rather, they record the proceedings on tape or digitially, then later transcribe testimony or proceedings when necessary. Moore had time to make sketches because she was not constantly taking shorthand.

Since Moore’s death in 2002, the drawings have been stored in two photo albums Daniel keeps in his chambers.

But for about three months in 2005, they were posted at the now-closed Wells Yeager Best pharmacy at 120 N. Third St., along the courthouse square. Pharmacy owner Steve Klink said Daniel showed the drawings to him, and he immediately thought, “other people have to see these.

“ … People came just to see them. Relatives of people in the drawings came to see them,” Klink said. “Lawyers who were pictured got a big kick out of it. It was interesting for everyone to see the defendants and talk about the old cases.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to Indiana Courts

Ind. Courts - "Judge Nemeth gives his parting words: He pulls no punches about DCS, openness, and how we let our kids down"

Virginia Black of the South Bend Tribune had a very long story/interview Dec. 23rd with St. Joseph County Probate Judge Peter J. Nemeth, whose last day in office was Friday, Dec. 21st. Just a sample:

Nemeth's last day in the office was Friday, as he finished packing his books and mementos and prepared to hand over the reins to Probate Judge-elect Jim Fox.

Nemeth has spent nearly 20 years as a probate judge, ever since Gov. Evan Bayh appointed him in 1993 to fill out his father's term in that seat. He had earlier been South Bend's mayor from 1976 to 1980, a member of the common council and a deputy prosecutor.

The judge has been outspoken on many issues over the years, taking on county officials' attempts to cut his budget, for example, and criticizing state officials for their running of juvenile facilities.

In the past year, he has openly lambasted Indiana's Department of Child Services over the agency's many changes under Gov. Mitch Daniels, and the effects of budget cuts, altered policies and less local control.

Earlier this year, the judge announced his decision to retire from the bench. Now 71, he'll join his son's firm, Nemeth, Sweeney and Masters, working on economic development issues and seeking certification as a mediator of civil cases. * * *

Q: For this community, it seems like the number of reports in this county are still high, CASIE Center says their caseload has gone up ever since Tramelle Sturgis died.

I think the DCS has responded because of what happened, because of the fury of the press, as well as the folks, and that's a good thing. But why weren't they doing that all along?

Q: People didn't know about a lot of the changes before.

And that's the other thing, everything's confidential, so nobody really knows what's going on. I have said for years that I think the days of confidentiality should be gone.

I don't understand the reason for maintaining confidentiality in juvenile cases. Certainly in paternities, the only difference from a divorce is that there's no property settlements in paternities, divorces are public. Why shouldn't paternities be public? The days of the shotgun wedding and the embarrassment and so forth when 40 percent of the kids are born out of wedlock, I don't know that that justifies maintaining that confidentiality anymore.

And certainly with CHINS cases (when children are deemed wards of the state because of abuse or neglect allegations), I think if citizens knew what was going on in their community, they might be able to respond much better and prevent some of these problems that reach a tragic end. Certainly, I think it would be after a probable cause hearing; if probable cause doesn't exist, it would remain confidential. ...

I will say that once things become public, then the press loses interest. The press is generally more interested when something's confidential, and they want to know what's going on. You open it up, and after a time, then people become numb or immune, whatever. But I still think it would be a good thing. ...

I think the theory was to prevent the child from suffering some stigma, from peers being cruel, but I kind of think in our present-day society we've gone way beyond that point. I don't think the objections are as valid as they may have been 50 years ago.

Q: I've sat in on a couple of hearings this year that were related to CHINS cases that were in your courtroom. I had to get your permission, but DCS objected pretty stringently under the confidentiality clause. ... With the Sturgis phone call, when we sought that, we believed that we might not hear anything that revealed anything about how that case unfolded or how it might have been prevented. As it turned out, we think it showed a great deal about maybe where there were some flaws in the system.

I think that tells you something: When DCS opposes the release on confidentiality, that's supposed to protect the children and families, not DCS. But yet DCS is the one that appears to be taking advantage of that.

Q: We've never talked about the circumstances of that phone call. We had our day in court, and made our argument, and you ordered it released. But you knew they would be unhappy, and it wasn't redacted (confidential information had not been electronically removed from the recording, although The Tribune edited it greatly to protect the identity of the caller and others named in the call). There was information there I guess you trusted us to use our judgment with, but can you talk about what your thinking was? You thought it was an important record for the community to hear, or -- ?

I think it was. I think frankly that the way the state set up DCS, they're virtually omnipotent, there's no check on them. Courts have been the check for years, but basically we were reduced to almost a subsidiary. You can't place a child anywhere without their consent, you can't do what's in the best interest of the child because they don't agree to it. ...

That's crazy, that a bureaucrat is going to tell me how to decide a case. It's not a good thing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to Indiana Courts

Ind. Courts - Electronic filing mandatory in SD Indiana effective Jan. 1, 2013

See the notice here of that change, plus others.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to Indiana Courts

Ind. Courts - Local closings because of snow storm

Official word:

The Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals of Indiana and Tax Court are closed today, December 26th.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson, Court of Appeals of Indiana Chief Judge Margret Robb and Tax Court Judge Marti Wentworth made the announcement of the closing due to the severe weather.

From an Indpls Bar Association tweet: "Marion Superior & Circuit Courts closed Wednesday due to weather."

From Judge Michelle Smith Scott: "Center Township Small Claims Court will be CLOSED 12/26. All cases will be re-scheduled and parties will be notified by mail."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to Indiana Courts