Judges Are People Too

Judges Are People Too We recently encountered another situation where we were reminded that regardless of what the law may be; a contract may say; or what the court orders may have been to that point in the case, ultimately the decision on how to enforce those things comes from a judge who has his or her own human emotions.  Before a recent hearing, we were having a discussion with our witness about the fact that there are really two aspects to the law: the legal side and the human side.  Interestingly, the witness thought that the human side is supposed to be left “out there on the sidewalk”.  For those of us who have tried a number of cases through a jury trial or to a judge, we know that is not at all the case.  Cases can be won or lost based upon the strength or likeability (or lack thereof) of a particular witness.  Cases also can be lost because even though the law allows for a certain remedy, the judge is just not willing to enforce that under particular circumstances. In our recent circumstances, there was a widow who had been represented by an elderly lawyer, and the lawyer had fallen ill.  The judge therefore had some concern about how much she had been advised about what had been going on.  Therefore, even though by the various court orders that had been entered, and even though all of the i’s had been dotted and t’s crossed, the judge was reluctant to enter the order that we were requesting until she felt comfortable the widow had retained...

Suited Up!

We are taking donations at our location on Monument Circle until January 15th! Read more about the program here: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indybar-start-the-new-year-with-a-clean-closet-and-help-local-students-suit-up/PARAMS/article/38966...

Indiana Judgment Liens against Real Estate

Indiana Judgment Liens against Real Estate In Indiana, when a judgment for monetary damages is entered in favor of a plaintiff, that judgment automatically becomes a lien for the judgment amount upon any and all real estate owned by the judgment defendant in the county where the judgment was entered.  See, Ind. Code § 34-55-9-2.  If the plaintiff knows or has reason to suspect that the judgment defendant owns real estate in any other Indiana county, the plaintiff can have the judgment indexed in such other county by delivering or mailing a certified copy of the judgment to the clerk of such county.  See, Ind. Code § 33-32-3-2(d).  Indexing the judgment in another Indiana county only costs $3 per county.  To obtain a judgment lien against non-Indiana real estate, the plaintiff will need to consult the laws of the applicable State because each State has its own procedure for domesticating foreign judgments. The judgment lien against real estate becomes effective automatically upon indexing of the judgment and remains effective for 10 years.  See, Ind. Code § 34-55-9-2.  A judgment lien takes priority as of the time of its indexing in the same manner that any other lien takes priority.  Therefore, liens already existing when the judgment is indexed will have priority over the judgment lien, while the judgment lien will have priority over any subsequently recorded liens against the property, including any subsequently recorded mortgage liens. Even if the plaintiff takes no action to enforce the judgment lien during the 10 years that it is effective, the lien can still benefit the plaintiff.  If the judgment defendant attempts to...

Ten Years to Fight Over a Contract?

Ten Years to Fight Over a Contract?! We are constantly emphasizing to our clients the importance of reading and understanding all of their contracts before signing them.  We also continually counsel our clients about the incredibly slow pace of litigation and how resolving business disputes through the courts can take many years.  A recent decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which would hear federal cases under Indiana law) serves as a good illustration of these points: In that, the 7th Circuit reversed a jury’s award of $1,500,000.00 in favor of a sales representative, and found that the plain language of that representative’s contract showed that he was only entitled to $54,000.00 in commissions.  The reason for the reversal was that his contract very clearly stated that in order for the sales person to receive commission credit under the employer’s previous compensation plan, any sale must close on or before December 25, 2005.  The sale at issue did not close until March, 2006.  During the original trial, the trial court allowed evidence to be introduced concerning what was intended by the parties, as opposed to simply enforcing the plain terms of the contract.  With the introduction of that extra evidence, the jury awarded $1,500,000.00.  The Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and directed that the employee was only entitled to $54,000.00. A few interesting points that came out of this recent decision include the fact that this dispute has been ongoing for ten years.  For some perspective, the sale at issue closed about 18 months before the introduction of the iPhone and the decision was entered on July...

Oral Contracts are Enforceable in Indiana…

Oral Contracts are Enforceable in Indiana… But Not if They Affect Real Estate We often are asked whether or not contracts that are not in writing are enforceable.    As a general rule, those types of contracts are enforceable, but there are certain types of agreements and contracts that are required by law to be in writing.   One of those types of contracts is any contract which seeks to convey an interest in land. This fairly well established principle of law was recently reaffirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals in a case involving a land contract.   Under a typical land contract, the seller retains legal title until the total contract price is paid by the buyer.  Legal title does not vest in the buyer until the contract terms are satisfied, but so-called “equitable title” vests in the buyer when the contract is executed.  It should be noted that the Indiana Supreme Court has previously determined that a land sales contract is similar to a mortgage, particularly if the buyer has paid more than a minimal amount of the contract price.    This affects what the seller must due in order to remove the buyer from the property if the buyer does not fully satisfy the terms and conditions of the land contract. In this new case, the two parties had entered into a land contract whereby the buyer would be making monthly payments until the end of the contract on November 30, 2010, when the unpaid balance was to be due in full unless renegotiated.  As the end of 2010 approached, the two parties entered into an oral agreement to...
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