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Monday, November 11, 2013

Ind. Courts - The significance of a denial of transfer by the Supreme Court

According to Appellate Rule 58(B):

B. Effect of the Denial of Transfer. The denial of a Petition to Transfer shall have no legal effect other than to terminate the litigation between the parties in the Supreme Court.
The ILB has written in the past about the import of a Court of Appeals opinion for which the Supreme Court has denied transfer. I can't locate any of those posts right now. But the question that reoccurs is, if the Supreme Court has denied transfer, does that mean the Court of Appeals holding is correct? The question recurred to me in reading this story by Dan Carden in today's NWI Times, headed "Litigants face long road to Indiana Supreme Court." Some quotes:
[O]nly 868 [cases] eventually were appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear most of them. The court issued just 78 rulings between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, excluding attorney discipline orders. * * *

The Court of Appeals last year decided 2,155 cases. That means about one out of every two-and-a-half Court of Appeals decisions was further appealed to the Supreme Court.

[Chief Justice Brent Dickson], who has served on the state's top court since 1986 and became chief justice in 2012, said numerous factors go into the Supreme Court's decision to "grant transfer," or hear an appeal of a Court of Appeals ruling.

"It depends on the case," Dickson said. "The court of last resort ... has a particular responsibility to make sure the precedent for the state is headed in the right direction."

He explained when the justices are reviewing cases to hear, they distinguish between "law making" and "error correction" cases.

"If the case involves making law, or making sure that the principles of law that are in a published opinion are correct or incorrect, they're more inclined to take the case," Dickson said.

He said error correction cases are heard less frequently, because often a lower court has more or less satisfactorily resolved a situation that is unlikely to come up again.

"If ... the Court of Appeals reaches a decision in which they make a call, the Supreme Court may well say, 'They may or may not have gotten that right, but we don't want to take resources away from our other responsibilities and address that," he said.

It takes agreement by at least three of the five justices to grant transfer of a Court of Appeals ruling.

Dickson said a decision to not grant transfer also sends a message to appellate judges. Such as, "This case doesn't make the grade but we'd like to see it again," or, "We're not altogether sure it's right, but we're going to let it go this time," he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 11, 2013 02:22 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions