Bloomington annexation lawsuit update: Deadline for appeal brief extended until July 25

In 2017, Indiana’s state legislature passed a law terminating the annexation process that Bloomington was undertaking at the time. The city of Bloomington filed suit and in late April won a judgement in the Monroe Circuit Court against the state: The court concluded that the annexation law, passed as a part of the budget bill, violated two different parts of the state constitution.

order granting extension

The state of Indiana has already taken the first step to appeal the Monroe County court’s ruling—to give formal notice of appeal.

The state’s deadline for the next step, filing a brief with the state’s Supreme Court, would have been this Thursday, June 27. The time limit is 30 days after the date when the trial court clerk gave notice that the record was complete—which was May 28.

But the state filed a motion—which was unopposed by the city of Bloomington, and granted by Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush—for an extension of the deadline by four weeks. So the state now has until July 25 to file its brief.

Two kinds of reasons were given by the state for an extension. First, the two attorneys handling the case for the state, Thomas Fisher and Julia Payne, each have about two weeks of “preplanned leave” in June and July.

Fisher is the state’s solicitor general; Payne is a deputy attorney general.

Second, the brief in support of the deadline extension says the attorneys “cannot reasonably prepare an adequate brief” by the prescribed deadline, because of several other cases they’re working on.

The other cases mentioned in the motion, annotated by the Beacon, are:

  • Timbs v. Indiana. This case is back in front of the Indiana Supreme Court after being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The state had a responsive brief due Friday, June 14. Oral argument is scheduled for Friday, June 28. It’s a civil forfeiture case. Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. The police seized a Land Rover SUV belonging to Timbs and the state sought civil forfeiture of the SUV. Because the SUV cost more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine for the drug conviction, the trial court denied the state’s request, citing the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed that decision holding that the excessive fines clause is inapplicable to state impositions. On Feb. 20, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Indiana court’s decision and sent the case back to Indiana to be heard in light of its ruling that the Eighth Amendment applies in the case.
  • Mathena v. Malvo. This case is in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Indiana joined an amicus brief with 14 other states, which was due June 18, 2019.  The case involves Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the D.C. snipers, who was under 18 at the time. Malvo was sentenced to life without parole in Virginia state court in 2004. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court found that mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. The current case involves how the Supreme Court decision relates to Malvo’s sentence. Indiana, and the 14 other states, support the position that Malvo’s sentence complies with the Eighth Amendment: “[T]he Eighth Amendment does not require—on pain of invalidation of an otherwise-final criminal sentence—state sentencing bodies to recite a particular verbal formula before imposing a life-without-parole sentence on a juvenile convicted of murder.” The other states joining in the brief are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
  • Bernard v. Medical Licensing Board. This case is in front of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana. The state had to file an answer by June 20. The case arose out of House Enrolled Act 1211, signed into law (Public Law 93) by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on April 24. The lawsuit was filed April 25. Public Law 93 says that dismemberment abortions can’t be performed unless there’s a medical judgment that one is necessary in order to prevent any serious health risk to the mother; or to save the mother’s life. Plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of certain parts of the law, which is set to take effect on July 1, 2019.
  • Marshall v. Indiana. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear the case, which involves whether there was reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop when a police officer’s radar indicated speeding but the officer did not document the excessive speed. On Feb. 27, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision which had found that evidence discovered as a result of the traffic stop should have been suppressed at trial. Plaintiff wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Indiana opposes, and has a brief in opposition due on June 28.
  • Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Hill. The case is in front of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The case arose when WWHA applied to the Indiana State Department of Health for a license to operate an abortion clinic in South Bend, Indiana. The Department initially denied WHHA’s application. WWHA applied again, but decided its second application was futile. On May 31, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the licensing requirement. The state of Indiana appealed the preliminary injunction to the Seventh Circuit, which has set a date for oral arguments on July 11.

Court filings for the appeal of Bloomington’s annexation case can be downloaded at mycase.in.gov, using the case number 19S-PL-00304.

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