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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Ind. Supreme Court declines to hear Carmel's appeal in traffic ordinance case

Yesterday in its weekly Transfer List survey, the ILB discussed that the Supreme Court had declined transfer in the case of Jason J. Maraman v. City of Carmel.

This morning Chris Sikich has posted this comprehensive story to the Indianapolis Star, headed "Carmel suffers big loss at Indiana Supreme Court on traffic violations." Some quotes:

A court ruling that invalidated a traffic ordinance Carmel used to ticket thousands of motorists will stand now that the Indiana Supreme Court has declined to hear the city's appeal.

The state Court of Appeals on Dec. 11 unanimously ruled that Carmel's ordinance 8-2, which defines general traffic regulations, improperly duplicated state law. After considering legal briefings filed by all sides, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case last week.

"The Supreme Court determined that the appellate court decision was correct on all accounts and the ordinance has been deemed to be invalid as a matter of law," said attorney Ed Bielski, who is pursing a class-action lawsuit in federal court from motorists who received tickets under the ordinance. * * *

The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association had filed briefs supporting Carmel's effort, saying in court filings the ruling could have dire impacts on cities and towns throughout Indiana with similar ordinances.

While no other ordinances have been challenged in court, Carmel named Evansville, Fort Wayne, Franklin, Griffith, Hamilton County, Hammond, Indianapolis, Lafayette, LaPorte, Peru, South Bend and Westfield as governments it believed had similar traffic ordinances.

Despite Carmel's opinion, Indianapolis and Hamilton County attorneys said they reviewed local ordinances and found them to be in compliance with state law. Peru's city attorney advised the police department to quit citing motorists under its own traffic law, according to a story in the Kokomo Tribune. He told the paper the city's ordinance does essentially duplicate state law and he is reviewing options to make it comply with state law.

More from the story:
Carmel's predicament stems from a traffic ticket Jason J. Maraman received last year that cited him under Carmel traffic ordinance 8-2 for driving 30 mph in a 20 mph zone. The state Court of Appeals ruled Carmel's traffic ordinance 8-2 was invalid because it simply copied the state code governing traffic.

The state's Home Rule Act says local governments can't simply duplicate a state statue, Maraman argued in court, representing himself. If local governments adopt traffic ordinances, he argued that under the Home Rule Act they have to write local ordinances detailing their specific interests, for instance, reduced speed in front of a school.

Maraman, who said he has no legal training, said he decided to represent himself because he felt the law was clear. He said he was surprised he was being cited for violating a state statute under a city ordinance.

“There is really no question here,” he said. “This is clearly established law. Carmel tried to argue the law doesn’t apply to them, and the appellate court said, no, the law does apply to Carmel.”

Here is the Court of Appeals opinion, from Dec. 15, 2015.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 19, 2016 09:43 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Transfer Lists