« February 09, 2013 | Main | February 11, 2013 »

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ind. law - Issue of a county’s right to apply health code regulations on sewage disposal systems

Niki Kelly has a long story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, headed "Statehouse gets county septic fight: Bill on permits would narrow exemptions for Amish." Here is the first part of the long story:

INDIANAPOLIS – An Allen County fight over waste disposal has hit the Indiana Statehouse, pitting lawmakers concerned about health and safety against those defending the religious beliefs of the Amish.

“Their way of life is to take care of themselves without government interference,” said Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn. “Not one Amish person wants a failing septic system. They live off the land so they take care of it.”

The battle began about 10 years ago when the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health started seeing more Amish installing their own septic systems and receiving complaints from neighbors about sewage and waste on their property.

Mindy Waldron, health department administrator, said the department tried to work through administrative avenues and many of the Amish complied.

But a small group of about 75 homeowners have fought every step of the way, including not getting permits to build septic systems and refusing inspections.

Allen County eventually took several cases to court and has won every time.

“I believe it is an important issue to my constituents in both Allen and Whitley Counties, both as a health issue and a monetary one in that their tax dollars are being spent in litigation trying to provide a healthy environment for their families and mine,” said Rep. Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City.

Heuer is sponsoring a Senate bill (SB 159) on the issue that was written by Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, and already passed that chamber.

At issue is the “log-cabin rule,” which dates back to the turn of the century. It generally says people can build their own house on their land in an unincorporated area without permits. If they want to sell the house in the future, it has to be disclosed and the home brought up to code.

The Amish have long used this exemption in building codes for constructing their own houses. But they have also interpreted it in recent years to also apply to health and sanitation rules.

Allen County appears to be the epicenter of the fight, though isolated cases have been found in a few other counties.

The Indiana Court of Appeals originally weighed in through a Washington County case in 2007, backing a county’s right to apply health code regulations on sewage disposal systems.

Allen County also won a 2011 case, and on Jan. 31 the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled again in its favor of another one. A Jay County case from 2012 also backed the county interpretation.

“We are trying to codify what the courts have said over and over because it is draining our legal resources to keep fighting the same fight,” Waldron said. “I just don’t think that proper sewage control is something that can be deemed optional. The effects are felt throughout the community in terms of disease and water pollution.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Government | Indiana Law

Ind. Courts - La Porte County Problem Solving Court doubles in size

Matt Fritz has the story in the LaPorte Herald Argus. It begins:

La PORTE — In a matter of a few months, the La Porte County Problem Solving Court, a program designed to help recovering addicts in the county, has more than doubled in size.

And now with a donation from La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, it is helping to make sure those participants get the aid they need to become productive members of society again.

Yesterday, Milo provided the court with the equivalent of 20 weeks worth of individual ridership service with the city of La Porte TransPorte Department, a department which provides transportation services to community members.

The money was raised at the Mayor's Ball.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Courts

Ind. Courts - "Prominent Floyd attorney Rick Fox charged with drunken driving"

Here is the story by Harold J Adams in the Evansville Courier Journal. It begins:

Prominent New Albany attorney Richard “Rick” Fox was arrested Thursday night on a drunken-driving charge in Clark County, according to court records and his attorney.

Fox, who is the attorney for Floyd County government, was arrested in Clarksville by an Indiana State Police trooper after leaving the Roosters restaurant on Green Tree Boulevard shortly after 10 p.m., attorney Larry Wilder said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Courts

Ind. Law - More on "Bill would restrict out-of-state college students from voting"

Updating this ILB entry from from Feb. 7th on HB 1311, Dave Bangert's column in the Sunday Lafayette Journal Courier is headed "The attack on Purdue students' voting rights: A dubious bill targets out-of-state college students." A few quotes from the long story:

HB 1311, introduced by Rep. Peggy Mayfield, a Martinsville Republican, proposes that the state deny residency for voting to anyone who moves to a precinct for “educational purposes if the person pays a nonresident tuition rate.”

At Purdue, that would apply to 11,080 U.S. nonresident students — or about 28 percent of the total enrollment in West Lafayette this school year, according to the Purdue Data Digest.

“We’re having people who are not necessarily residents voting in our elections,” Mayfield told The Indianapolis Star. Those in favor of the bill said they were looking to keep people from voting in two places — already a Class D felony in Indiana for anyone caught voting twice. * * *

State Rep. Sheila Klinker, a Lafayette Democrat, lent a page practically ripped from the Community of Choice discussions around town: “I think it sends a negative message to the young people who want to live in our area and who want to stay in our area — many of whom go to graduate school, get married in our area, have children that go to our schools. So we really don’t want to see this bill go any further.”

But let’s say we didn’t really give a flip whether students from other states came, stayed, went, whatever. The question at the Statehouse should be: Is this a problem in college communities?

Not really. At least not here in Purdue’s backyard, says Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey.

“No, I don’t remember ever having to challenge on the registration status for Purdue students — and I certainly don’t want to encourage that,” Coffey said. “And yes, we do encourage them to register and be involved in this community.”

It’s not as if the county’s election board is beating back a crush of student voters looking to tip the scales. Usually, the opposite is true, taking a monumental effort to coax students buried in studies and smartphones to vote once, let alone twice.

There is much more in the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Law

Ind. Law - Indianapolis native, attorney Richard M. Fairbanks, III has died

From the obituary in today's Indianapolis Star:

The Honorable Richard M. Fairbanks, III, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Layalina Productions died at his home, in Coconut Grove, Florida on February 6, 2013.

Mr. Fairbanks spent his professional life as a lawyer and in government service following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Charles Warren Fairbanks, Vice-President under Theodore Roosevelt. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Mr. Fairbanks received his A.B. from Yale University on a NROTC scholarship and his J.D. magna cum laude from Columbia University School of Law where he was Business Manager of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Between Yale and Columbia, Mr. Fairbanks served on active duty as a Regular Officer with the U.S. Navy as the Operations Officer of USS Zellars (DD-777), and later as Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet.

Upon graduation from Columbia in 1969, Mr. Fairbanks spent two years as an associate attorney with the Washington law firm of Arnold & Porter. In 1971, Mr. Fairbanks was named the Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, William Ruckleshaus and also served as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at Georgetown University Law Center from 1971 to 1972. In July 1971, he became a Staff Assistant at the White House Domestic Council and became Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment of the Council in December 1972.

After leaving government service in 1974, Mr. Fairbanks was a founding partner of the Washington law firm which was known, prior to his departure in 1981, as Beveridge, Fairbanks & Diamond.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Law

Ind. Courts - "He took money from orphans, from widows, from people whose lives were devastated"

That is a quote from a lengthy, front-page story today in the Indianapolis Star, reported by Tim Evans. The headline is "Once wealthy, powerful lawyer's fate now rests in hands of a public defender," and the subject is William F. Conour. Mr Conour resigned from the Indiana bar the end of June - see this ILB entry. Here is a list of related ILB posts.

Here is a sample from today's story:

"He was the construction injury attorney in the state of Indiana. And highly, highly respected," [Timothy F. Devereux, who worked for Conour from 2008 to 2011] said. "That's why I felt comfortable when I joined the firm, because everybody said, 'Oh yeah, this guy, he's a god.' He had the atrium of the law school named after him!"

Conour's sterling reputation didn't stop Daly from reporting him to the Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission in 2008.

But it would be nearly four years before the commission initiated action to suspend his law license and the criminal charge was filed.

[John P. Daly, who worked with Conour from 2005 to 2008] said he became concerned because Conour, who always handled the distribution of settlements, was slow in getting money to clients.

"It was taking longer than I liked," he explained, "and Bill was not at all receptive to questions about that."

After he split from Conour, Daly said he filed the complaint because he feared Conour would not pay a settlement they won for a woman in a nursing home.

"No one knew she had not been paid," he said, "but Bill and me."

Daly said the woman died in January -- without receiving her money. There was no money for her burial.

"It was absolutely horrible," he said.

Daly said he is frustrated it took so long for authorities to reign in [sic] Conour.

"Bill did a lot of mayhem between the time I made the complaint and the time he was formally charged," he said. "It was disappointing that it apparently wasn't a priority."

Kathryn Dolan, the Supreme Court's public information officer, said details about specific complaints and investigations are confidential.

"Each case is reviewed based on its own merits," she said. "Depending on the nature of a complaint, the length of an investigation can vary. ... As you can imagine, complicated investigations make it more difficult to quickly resolve a complaint."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Sunday, February 10, 2013
Posted to Indiana Courts