“What does the Indiana Supreme Court do? What cases does it hear?”
The Indiana Supreme Court has a vast supervisory role over attorneys, judges and Indiana’s legal system. In these matters, the Supreme Court has original, exclusive jurisdiction. However, where fact-finding is necessary, such as in attorney disciplinary cases, it appoints hearing officers to conduct this on its behalf.
It has mandatory jurisdiction in certain other lawsuits and matters. This means the cases proceed directly from the trial court to the Indiana Supreme Court and by-pass the Indiana Court of Appeals. The following are the types of cases where the Supreme Court has mandatory jurisdiction:
- Criminal matters in which a sentence of death or life imprisonment without parole is imposed.
- Final judgments declaring a state or federal statute unconstitutional in whole or part.
- Waiver of parental consent to abortion.
- Mandate of funds.
Most litigants will never encounter these provisions. Instead, they will engage the Indiana Supreme Court by seeking discretionary review. At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we spend a significant amount of professional time and consideration in determining if a case has the potential to be accepted by the Supreme Court through a Petition for Transfer.
In preparing a Petition for Transfer to the Supreme Court, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., researches, drafts, and then files a Petition to Transfer. The Indiana Supreme Court reviews all of these petitions and selects those that warrant its attention under the considerations it sets out in the rule governing transfer:
- Conflicts with other decisions of the Court of Appeals.
- Conflicts with the Indiana Supreme Court’s own decisions.
- Conflicts with a Federal appellate court’s decision.
- Raises an undecided question of law.
- Reflects a legal principal that needs to be reconsidered in light of current times.
- Signifies an important departure from the current state of the law or law practice.
In fiscal year 2010, the Indiana Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction and issued transfer in approximately 10.7% of all transfer petitions brought before it. Specifically, 745 cases were first appealed to the Court of Appeals, then accepted on Transfer. One third of these transfers were civil cases and two thirds criminal.
This is somewhat self-apparent because in criminal cases a more profound right is at issue: the loss of freedom. If the Indiana Supreme Court denies transfer or grants transfer and issues a ruling adverse to a party, a few other remedies may be available.
In criminal cases, there may be the right to post-conviction relief or federal habeas corpus or Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. In civil cases, a party may seek Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court within 90 days. Some other relief may be found in a Motion to Set Aside in limited use.
Indiana Supreme Court cases are rare, but, nevertheless, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. believes viable channels for relief in certain cases of important policies. If you face a Petition to Transfer and seek counsel, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may partner with you to handle this important legal matter. We are skilled and particularly interested in these cases because they develop the laws we all live and work under.
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