Monday, October 29, 2007

Observations on Not-For-Publications opinions and on do-it-yourself appeals

Warning, I discuss a Not-For-Publication (NFP) case in this post. NFP means the case cannot be cited as law, or as the little box in the upper left hand corner on the first page says:

Pursuant to Ind.Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.
Why write about such a case? My first reason is that while the case cannot be cited as law, the case remains a resource for finding the law on a subject.

Query v. Query (PDF format; Indiana Court of Appeals, 10-25-2007) is a resources for post-high school educational cases on the subjects of modification and enforcement. The Court of Appeals upheld Father's modification on the grounds of Father's inability to work and son being 22 year old and working full time as substantial and continuous grounds for modification. (Pages 6 -7 ). The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court on the amount father owed for unpaid educational benefits. As with ordinary child support, educational benefits may be modified only back to the date of filing the petition. Money owed from before the date of filing the petition was still due and Father ought to be have been held in contempt. (Pages 7-8).

Randall Walden v. Val Majors Castrodale has a former husband trying to set aside his marriage because the Marion County Clerk could not find within its records a copy of his Virgin Island marriage. The former husband got nothing but an Order to pay the wife's attorney fees. Some good nuggets here on the law marriage.

My second reason centers on something less concrete. I suppose pro se appeals have existed forever. (Pro se means doing it yourself). Sometimes they are successful (as in Query) and some times they are so bad that the other side gets an Order for appellate attorney fees. Walden has a brief discussion of some of the things one can do wrong on an appeal. I say some because appeals are complicated beasts - complicated by timing rules, complicated by formatting rules, and complicated by the rules of argument. No one should undertake an appeal lightly. I suspect that Mr. Query had trouble finding a lawyer to put his argument before the courts.

I should admit another reason for reading these NFP cases: some are just really good stories.

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