Justice Robert D. Rucker ended his decades-long legal career in 2017 with his retirement from the Indiana Supreme Court. Justice Rucker came to the supreme court after serving eight years as a judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals. His elevation to the supreme court in 1999 still stands as the most recent occasion a court of appeals judge was selected for Indiana’s highest court. (Prior to Justice Rucker, the most recent judge to hold that honor was Justice Donald Mote, who was elevated from what was then known as the Indiana Appellate Court in 1966 into the then-elected position of supreme court justice.)

Earlier this year, a trial court in Indiana ordered IBM to post a $25 million appeal bond staying execution of a $78 million judgment. The litigation arose from IBM’s breach of a contract requiring it to automate much of Indiana’s welfare services. The amounts of both the judgment and appeal bond are perhaps extraordinary. Still, the IBM case highlights lessons for attorneys requesting stays in more commonplace civil cases. 

This Article begins by explaining why a party would need to request an appeal bond and the requirements for doing so.  It then addresses how courts determine the amount to fix for such a bond. It concludes by offering some practical considerations for both defendants (judgment-debtors) and plaintiffs (judgment-creditors).

In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court held that all criminal defendants facing serious criminal charges are entitled to the assistance of counsel, regardless of whether they can afford an attorney. In the years since Gideon, however, the provision of public defense to those who cannot afford counsel has fallen far short of the ideal expressed in Gideon that “every defendant stands equal before the law.” The failure of public defense systems to provide adequate representation to indigent defendants is often caused by severe underfunding and has resulted in the chronic appointment of “incompetent or inexperienced” counsel; delays in the appointment of counsel and discontinuity of attorney representation; a lack of training and oversight for counsel representing indigent defendants; excessive public defender caseloads and understaffing of public defender offices; inadequate or nonexistent expert and investigative resources for defense counsel; and a lack of meaningful attorney-client contact.

One response to these failings—as is often the case when constitutional violations are afoot—has been to challenge them in court. The focus of this short Article is on how the courts can address and have addressed the failings of underfunded and structurally flawed indigent defense systems. More specifically, it explores lawsuits that identify systemic failures—such as underfunding, excessive caseloads, and inadequate training and oversight—and seeks system-wide remedies capable of transforming the provision of defense services.

by Jon Noyes (Attorney Profile)
Wilson Kehoe Winingham LLC
2859 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
(317) 920-6400
wkw.com

[Editor’s Note: This is the second article Jon Noyes has written for the Indiana Law Review Blog. You can find his first article here.]


Indiana’s adult wrongful death statutes group individuals into two categories:  (1) adults who were married, or possessed dependent next of kin, or both; [1] and (2) adults who were not married and possessed no dependent next of kin. [2].  Which category the decedent falls into determines the measure of damages available. [3].

Under normal circumstances, this does not present a substantial obstacle.  It is usually easy to determine whether or not the decedent was married or possessed dependent next of kin.  This can be as simple as looking at the decedent’s death certificate.  However, what if it is impossible to determine whether the decedent possessed a spouse or dependents at the time of his or her death?  For example, how would a married couple be categorized if they had no dependents and died in a manner that left it impossible to determine who predeceased who?  Can the plaintiff show that the decedent meets the requirement of either?

The answer is no.  As discussed below, if two individuals that would normally be considered adults that were married expire simultaneously or in a manner that makes it impossible to determine who predeceased who, the plain language of the Wrongful Death Statute seems to indicate that it would be impossible to determine which measure of damages apply.  However, under principles of equity, the personal representatives of the decedents should be able to recover damages as if both individuals left surviving spouses.