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Friday, June 05, 2015

Ind. Courts - Supreme Court declines transfer in high-fenced hunting case [Updated]

The General Assembly this year failed to enact legislation either banning or permitting high-fence hunting ranches. The result - the next move was up to the Supreme Court, as reported in this ILB post on April 22nd:

The preserves argue that the DNR doesn’t have oversight over the deer on their properties, which they consider to be livestock.

Recently, two lower courts have sided with the preserves.

[ILB: Trial courts in two different counties, Harrison and Owen, have issued conflicting rulings; the State appealed the Harrison County ruling that had held that deer are livestock and not subject to DNR regulation. The COA affirmed.]

But a political fight is imminent no matter which way the state’s top justices rule, should they decide to take up the case.

If the judges side with preserves, the hunting methods on high-fenced properties would remain unregulated. An owner could allow a client to shoot a drugged deer in a tiny pen, or only minutes after unloading it from a truck.

The General Assembly could find itself back at the same impasse. * * *

But if the judges rule that the DNR does have oversight, it’s hardly a sure thing that the DNR will do what it tried to do a decade ago: make the preserves extinct in Indiana.

Politics will come into play in that scenario, too.

No one considered that the Supreme Court would decline to hear the case, leaving the COA decision as the law in Indiana. But that is what happened; here, thanks to Dan Carden of the NWI Times, is the June 5, 2015 order of the Supreme Court, on the petition to transfer the COA decision., Whitetail Bluff.

Chief Justice Rush and Justice Dickson voted for transfer, Justices Rucker and David voted to deny, and Justice Massa did not participate. So it was a 2-2 split and when the Court is evenly divided, transfer is deemed denied by virtue of App. Rule 58(C).

For more background, start with this post from April 15th, including this quote from the FWJG:

“This provides a rigid framework for four existing preserves,” said Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange. “Without this bill, there is no regulation in place.”

That makes a decision by the Indiana Supreme Court on pending litigation huge. The legal battle has been ongoing for 10 years.

If the court agrees to accept an appeal and sides with the DNR, the preserves would be shut down and no new ones could open. If the court agrees with the appellate ruling, the preserves can exist with no rules until the legislature can act next year.

[Updated] See also this Niki Kelly story in the June 6th Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, headlined "High court ruling paves way for captive hunting."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 5, 2015 05:57 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts