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Friday, August 02, 2013

Ind. Courts - Some Highlights of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Oral Argument Calendar

Commentary by Joel Schumm, professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law

A June 13 post noted the Indiana Supreme Court has scheduled 20 oral arguments between September 5 and December 5 — two on almost every Thursday during that three-month period. The Court has since modified its calendar with an earlier start date and expanded to three arguments on several days. The Court will hear three arguments on August 22; September 5, 12, and 26; and October 3 — and, for now, two arguments on most Thursdays in October and November.

Equal Mix of Civil and Criminal Cases

A total of 25 arguments are scheduled: 13 in civil cases and 12 in criminal cases.*

Few Pre-Transfer Arguments

Transfer has been granted in 19 (76%) of the 25 cases scheduled for argument. Earlier posts have discussed the trend of increasingly scheduling argument to decide whether to grant transfer. These statistics support Chief Justice Dickson’s comments to the ILB that pre-transfer arguments are a minor difference between the “new” and “old” court and not a major policy change.

High Profile Cases

The following cases have and will likely continue to generate public and media interest:

Sept. 5: Indiana Gas Company v. Indiana Finance Authority involves the $2.8 billion coal-gas plant in Rockport. Much of the media attention has involved whether Justice Massa will recuse.

Sept. 12: Brewington v. State concerns free speech and other claims arising from blog posts by a litigant about his child custody case. Professor Eugene Volokh filed an amicus brief on behalf of an ideological diverse collection of groups and individuals. He will be using part of the Appellant’s time. The last time a high-profile out-of-state professor argued at the Indiana Supreme Court was Laurence Tribe some fifteen years ago in Martin v. Richey — and he did a stellar job.

Sept. 26: Indiana Newspapers v. Miller involves a “discovery request for information about an anonymous defendant who posted an allegedly defamatory comment on the Indianapolis Star’s webpage.” (Disclosure note: I was part of the IBA amicus committee that filed a brief urging the Court to grant transfer to resolve the unsettled question of the appealability of discovery orders compelling non-parties to produce documents or information.)

Oct. 3: VFW Post 2953 v. City of Evansville will address Indiana Constitutional challenges to the Evansville ordinance “banning smoking in workplaces and other public places, including private clubs and taverns, but exempting riverboat casinos.” The Court of Appeals’ opinions were surprisingly not-for-publication.

Oct. 10: In Delagrange v. State the defendant “attached a video camera to his shoe and obtained images of the area beneath the skirts of female minors. . . . A divided Court of Appeals held that the phrasing of the statutes requires the child be performing the sexual conduct, and reversed the convictions . . . .”

Oct. 31: Smith v. State involves a high school principal charged with failing to immediately report “that a child may be a victim of child abuse or neglect,” Ind. Code § 31-33-5-4. After a student reported that she had been raped the principal conducted his own investigation before contacting authorities.

Forty Minutes Remains the Norm

Nearly all arguments are scheduled for 40 minutes (20 each side). The exceptions are Indiana Newspapers v. Miller and Brewington v. State. The latter case originally was scheduled for 40 minutes but later increased to 60 upon motion from the Appellant.
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* Although Bleeke v. State may seem like a criminal case in terms of parties and subject matter (parole conditions), the case bears a PL (civil plenary) cause number and is therefore included in the civil statistics.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 2, 2013 09:44 AM
Posted to Schumm - Commentary | Upcoming Oral Arguments