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Legal Ghostwriting

It is no secret that Indiana courts are busy.  In 2015-2016 Annual Report, the Supreme Court noted that there were approximately 1.4 million new cases filed in Indiana in 2015 alone.  www.in.gov/judiciary/supreme/files/1516report.pdfhttp://www.in.gov/judiciary/supreme/files/1516report.pdf (last visited February 11, 2017).  During that same time period, there were approximately 643 judicial officers, not including senior judges, who were assigned to handle and adjudicate those cases.  On average, that represents approximately 2,177 new cases per judge per year.

In order to handle that heavy volume, those judges often rely on the parties and their lawyers to provide what is commonly referred to as a proposed order to assist the court with rendering its decision in a timely and efficient manner.  However, what happens if a trial court adopts and signs a verbatim reproduction of a party’s proposed order without any changes?  It is certainly understandable that a party who loses a motion or their entire case could be skeptical if it knew or learned that the judge completely adopted the opposing party’s position and proposed findings.  The complete ratification of a party’s proposed order could suggest that the judge’s decision was not thoughtfully decided. 

Our Supreme Court has addressed this issue in a post-conviction relief case. See Stevens v. State, 770 N.E.2d 739, 762 (Ind. 2002).  It noted that “near verbatim reproductions may appropriately justify cautious appellate scrutiny[.]”  While an appellate review of verbatim orders may be appropriately cautious, it does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that a defendant did not receive a full, fair and unbiased adjudication in his case.  Indeed, the appellate process itself is in place to ensure that a case is properly and fairly decided.    

Looking for a Hancock County criminal defense attorney that understands your criminal and appellate rights? Contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated.  We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case.  Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.