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'Appeals on Wheels' program brings Indiana's second highest court to Richmond

sidewalk leads up to a brown brick building. Flowers line the walkway.
Indiana University East
Appeals on Wheels will heard in Whitewater Hall's Vivian Auditorium.

The second highest court in Indiana is returning to Richmond this week. The Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at Indiana University East March 24.

The "Appeals on Wheels" program takes the court across the Hoosier state to hear cases in communities outside Indianapolis. It's seen as an opportunity for people to view how the court functions up close.

"We have the opportunity to be there, to listen, to watch it all take place — see what happens," says Scott Lee, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science and an assistant professor at IU East.

"We get to see the process — the back and forth between the judges and the attorneys as the judges ask questions and the attorneys answer those questions. It just gives us a better understanding of how our court system administers justice in Indiana."

Lee sees it as a valuable experience for students, faculty and staff, but also for the community at large. Sometimes the case being heard is local, but not always.

This is the first time the Appeals on Wheels program has come back to IU East since the start of the pandemic. The planned 2020 session was canceled days before it was slated to take place as coronavirus swept the nation. IU East usually hosts the court once per year.

"The really interesting thing at the end is the fact that the judges will answer questions from anyone in the audience — as long as it doesn't deal with that particular case," Lee adds.

The proceedings are open to the public but seating in Vivian Auditorium is limited, and once oral arguments begin no further admittance is permitted. The session begins at 10:30 a.m. and lasts an hour.

Court of Appeals Panel and Case Information

According to the university:

"A panel consisting of Judge Patricia A. Riley, Judge Melissa S. May and Judge Leanna K. Weissmann will hear the case Donald Johnson v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-1234.

"Donald Johnson appeals the denial of his motion to dismiss 10 of the 17 Class C felony securities-related charges against him. Johnson argues the trial court abused its discretion when it did not dismiss these 10 counts because all relevant charges were filed outside the statute of limitations for the crimes alleged. Additionally, he argues dismissal is warranted because the State did not allege the 'knowingly' element of the crimes in its charging information and the charging information are otherwise deficient because they fail to state the relevant offenses with sufficient certainty for Johnson to provide a defense. Finally, Johnson contends the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to dismiss because none of the instruments in question were securities for the purposes of the Indiana Uniform Securities Act."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.