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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ind. Courts - Transfer Statistics for 2013: Which Types of Cases Are Catching the Indiana Supreme Court’s Eye?

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

Remember those quarterly transfer stats? Sorry, I’m running a little behind.

This post instead offers a more probing overview of 2013 — not just the chart that considers published/unpublished and civil/criminal grants but also some analysis of the types of cases within those categories that garnered the Court’s attention in 2013.

Transfer Dispositions: January 1, 2013-December 31, 2013
  FP cases NFP cases FP & NFP
CIVIL 28/114 (24.6%) 9/129(7%) 37/243(15.2%)
CRIMINAL 26/145 (17.9%) 9/387 (2.3%) 35/532 (6.6%)
ALL CASES 54/259 (20.8%) 18/516 (3.5%) 72/775(9.3%)

Similar to previous quarters, litigants with a published opinion were six times more likely to secure transfer than those with an unpublished opinion. The difference was more muted in civil cases, where litigants in NFP cases fared surprisingly well with 7% odds at transfer, just a bit below the overall average of 9.3% for all opinions.

Overall, transfer was more than twice as likely in civil cases (15.2%) than in criminal cases (6.6%). The numbers are far more bleak for those representing criminal defendants, who secured less than twenty of the grants, despite filing more than 500 of the petitions—or less than 4% odds.

Drilling into the civil and criminal categories by case type provides a more complete picture of the specific kinds of cases that caught the Court’s eye last year. Within the civil realm, transfer was most likely in the following:

(certain) Administrative (EX) 2/6 (33%)
Guardianship (GU) 1/3 (33%)
Adoption (AD) 1/4 (25%)
Civil Tort (CT) 11/56 (20%)
Juvenile CHINS (JC) 1/5 (20%)
Civil Plenary (CP) 13/84 (15%)
Domestic Relation (DR) 3/23 (13%)
Termination of Parental Rights (JT) 3/28 (11%)
Miscellaneous (MI) 2/23 (9%)
Not surprisingly, a fairly high percentage of transfer grants from NFP opinions in civil cases came in Domestic Relations (2/13 or 15%) and Termination of Parental Rights (2/23 or 9%) appeals. Unpublished torts opinions were also granted at an above-average rate of 9% (2/22).

Among the three categories of criminal appeals, the variations were especially stark:

Juvenile Delinquency (JV) 4/9 (44%)
Criminal (CR) 29/391 (7%)
Post-Conviction (PC) 2/106 (2%)
Two of the Court’s three newest members spent many years as juvenile court judges, which boded well for the development of juvenile delinquency law. Although three of the four grants in juvenile delinquency appeals were on petitions filed by the State, all four of the cases ended well for the juvenile, including three opinions authored by Justice Rush. See K.W. v. State; State v. I.T.; N.L. v. State; and G.H. v. State (transfer denied in 2014, after oral argument).

Although the end result is sometimes not affirmance of the conviction or adjudication, as explained in earlier posts the Attorney General’s office has seen nearly every petition for transfer it has filed in the past year granted. Nearly half (16.5) of the thirty-five grants last year were petitions from the State.** A separate post will consider the ultimate outcome in recent criminal appeals and whether any trends can be discerned from the new Court, which has been together now for nearly seventeen months.
*Cases that appear as N/A on the transfer list have been excluded. Cases in which transfer was granted in 2013 and vacated during the same year have also been excluded. Cases have not been excluded if transfer was granted in 2013 and vacated in 2014. The goal is to give a snapshot of the year, and these numbers may well change even further in the coming weeks and months.
**Guilmette is counted as 0.5 because both the State and Defendant’s petitions were granted.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 27, 2014 10:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts