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Indiana high court to consider city rental registration fee
Headline News | 2018/09/10 04:53
The Indiana Supreme Court is preparing to review the constitutionality of a 2015 state law targeting the city of Hammond's rental registration revenue.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that the state's high court will hear oral arguments Thursday about a law limiting housing rental registration fees to $5 per unit per year. The law exempts Bloomington and West Lafayette due to their unique rental market as college towns, but applies to Hammond, which charges rental registration fees of $80 per unit.

The state Court of Appeals struck down the law in February, concluding that lawmakers violated the constitutional ban on special laws "relating to fees or salaries" by allowing only the two college towns to charge a rental registration fee distinct from what applies across the rest of Indiana.


Poland likely to ignore EU court ruling on justice overhaul
Headline News | 2018/08/25 10:09
Poland's deputy prime minister says his government will likely ignore the European Court of Justice if it suspends a new Polish law compelling numerous Supreme Court judges to retire early.

The attempted forced retirements are part of a broader overhaul of the justice system by Poland's nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice. The changes have alarmed the European Union, which says rule of law is under threat in Poland.

The government insists it is reforming a corrupt system.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin says if the EU court suspends the retirement law, "our government will probably have no choice" but to ignore the ruling. His comments were published Monday by a pro-government weekly, Do Rzeczy.


New Jersey court proposes tossing out old open-warrant cases
Headline News | 2018/07/22 13:41
The highest court in New Jersey is taking steps to do away with hundreds of thousands of open warrants for minor offenses such as parking tickets as part of an overhaul of the state's municipal court system.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on Thursday assigned three Superior Court judges to hold hearings on the proposal to dismiss at least 787,764 open warrants for offenses more than 15 years old that were never prosecuted.

"Those old outstanding complaints and open warrants in minor matters raise questions of fairness, the appropriate use of limited public resources by law enforcement and the courts, the ability of the state to prosecute cases successfully in light of how long matters have been pending and the availability of witnesses, and administrative efficiency," Rabner wrote in his order.

NJ.com reported that the order covers open warrants issued before 2003 for failure to appear in low-level cases, including 355,619 parking ticket cases, 348,631 moving violations and some cases related to town ordinance violations.

The open warrant and the underlying unpaid ticket would be dismissed. The order indicates that more serious charges such as speeding and drunken driving would not be included.

Throwing out old low-level cases was among 49 recommendations following a Supreme Court committee's review of the municipal court system. The committee cited a growing "public perception" that municipal courts "operate with a goal to fill the town's coffers," which the panel called contrary to the purpose of the courts.



Court to consider fraud investigator in NFL concussion case
Headline News | 2018/05/28 02:27
A federal judge in Philadelphia is scheduled to hear arguments in the NFL's request for a special investigator to look into what the league says are fraudulent claims in a $1 billion concussion settlement.

The league last month cited an independent study it said found that more than 400 claims had been recommended for denial based on evidence of fraud by attorneys, doctors and former players.

Plaintiffs' lawyers contend the league is not awarding settlement funds fast enough. So far, $227 million in claims have been awarded.

The league says attempts to scam the system are responsible for delays. The NFL has asked that the investigator be granted subpoena power.

League officials say a special investigator would help ensure the integrity of the settlement. Arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.


Supreme Court limits warrantless vehicle searches near homes
Headline News | 2018/05/03 02:28
The Supreme Court is putting limits on the ability of police to search vehicles when they do not have a search warrant.

The court sided 8-1 Tuesday with a Virginia man who complained that police walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering his motorcycle, which turned out to be stolen. They acted without a warrant, relying on a line of Supreme Court cases generally allowing police to search a vehicle without a warrant.

The justices said the automobile exception does not apply when searching vehicles parked adjacent to a home.

The court ruled in the case of Ryan Collins, who was arrested at the home of his girlfriend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Collins had twice eluded police in high-speed chases in which he rode an orange and black motorcycle.

The authorities used Collins' Facebook page to eventually track the motorcycle to his girlfriend's home.

Collins argued that police improperly entered private property uninvited and without a warrant.

Virginia's Supreme Court said the case involved what the Supreme Court has called the "automobile exception," which generally allows police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they believe the vehicle contains contraband.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said for the court Tuesday that the state court was wrong. Sotomayor said that constitutional protections for a person's home and the area surrounding it, the curtilage, outweigh the police interest in conducting a vehicle search without a warrant.



Court won't reconsider making public family slain autopsies
Headline News | 2018/04/25 17:25
The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday once again rejected requests for unredacted autopsy reports from the unsolved slayings of eight family members.

The court ruled 5-2 without comment against reconsidering its December decision that the Pike County coroner in southern Ohio does not have to release the reports with complete information.

The case before the court involved seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family who were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon, in rural southern Ohio, on April 22, 2016. No arrests have been made or suspects identified.

Heavily redacted versions of the autopsy reports released in 2016 showed all but one of the victims were shot multiple times in the head, but details about any other injuries and toxicology test results weren't released.

In the 4-3 December ruling, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, writing for the majority, said Ohio law regarding coroner records clearly exempts the redacted material as "confidential law enforcement investigatory records."

Once a criminal investigation ends, confidential information in autopsy reports can become public records, but the process leading to a suspect can sometimes take time, O'Connor wrote.


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