Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Did Court of Appeals Increase Workload of Supreme Court by Requiring More Lawsuits to be Filed as Original Actions?

In an opinion handed down today, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision dismissing the lawsuit against Judge Bill Young for his practices in the Marion County Traffic Court:
This is the holding of the decision:

In their Complaint, Appellants clearly requested an "Order of Prohibition" and an "Order of Mandamus." Appellants’ Appendix at 22-23. However, the Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive, original jurisdiction over actions for writs of mandamus and prohibition against inferior courts, and the reason for this rule is that the Indiana Supreme Court alone has authority over the supervision of State courts. See Ind. Const. Art. 7, § 4 ("Jurisdiction of Supreme Court"); Ind. Appellate Rule 4(B)(3) (noting the Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters involving the supervision of courts, including issuance of writs of mandate and prohibition); Ind. Original Action Rules 1(A) and (B) (same); see also Chissell v. State, 705 N.E.2d 501, 506 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), trans. denied. Based upon the record, we conclude that the trial court properly dismissed the Complaint and granted Judge Young’s motion to dismiss.
This is a lawsuit I initated and was argued on appeal by Attorney Adam Lenkowsky.  Early on my plans were to file an original action for a writ of mandamus/prohibition with the Indiana Supreme Court against Judge Young's practices.  Indeed I would have loved nothing more.  But I reviewed both the Indiana Constitution and appellate rules and it is crystal clear that we could not file an original action in the Indiana Supreme Court because original actions are limited to those dealing with matters related to a trial court's jurisdiction.

Here is Ind. Const. Art. 7, § 4 cited by the Court of Appeals:
Section 4. The Supreme Court shall have no original jurisdiction except in admission to the practice of law; discipline or disbarment of those admitted; the unauthorized practice of law; discipline, removal and retirement of justices and judges; supervision of the exercise of jurisdiction by the other courts of the State; and issuance of writs necessary or appropriate in aid of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction under such terms and conditions as specified by rules except that appeals from a judgment imposing a sentence of death shall be taken directly to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall have, in all appeals of criminal cases, the power to review all questions of law and to review and revise the sentence imposed.
Here are Indiana Original Action Rules 1(A) and (B)  cited by the Court of Appeals:

"Rule 1. Scope of Rules

(A) Jurisdiction of Supreme Court Over Original Actions for Writs of Mandamus or Prohibition. The Supreme Court has exclusive, original jurisdiction to supervise the exercise of jurisdiction of all inferior state courts, including the Court of Appeals, by virtue of Indiana Constitution, Article 7, Section 4, and Ind. Appellate Rule 4(B)(3).

(B) Nature of Original Actions Governed by These Rules. Actions commenced in the Supreme Court pursuant to the authority in section (A) above for writs of mandamus or prohibition against inferior state courts and the judge or judges thereof and concerned solely with the question of jurisdiction shall be known as original actions and shall be governed exclusively by these Rules."
Here is Ind. Appellate Rule 4(B)(3):

The Indiana Constitution and rules make it clear that any writ of mandamus/prohibition filed as an original action has to be related to the trial court's jurisdiction.  With all due respect to the judges who decided this matter, if the Court of Appeals decision (in a published decision) is allowed to stand will have the effect of greatly expanding the number of original actions filed with the Indiana Supreme Court.   We intend to ask for transfer.
"B. Other Jurisdiction. The Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the following matters:
(3) Supervision of Courts. Supervision of the exercise of jurisdiction by other courts of the State of Indiana, including the issuance of writs of mandate and prohibition..."

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