The first decision, Messer v. New Albany Police Department, 965 N.E.2d 549 (Ind. App. 2012) involving Jack Messer’s appeal from his suspension from the New Albany Police Department. I attended the oral argument in this case. It was a great discussion of First Amendment issues versus the government’s right to impose reasonable discipline on employees. Local attorneys Bart Betteau argued the case for Messer and Brandon Smith argued the case for New Albany Police Department. The court found in favor of New Albany in a 2-1 decision with a thoughtful dissent by Judge Baker. A link to the full opinion is attached below.
The second decision, New Albany Historical Preservation Commission v. Bradford Realty, Inc, 965 N.E.2d 79 (Ind.App. 2012), involved a suit filed by a homeowner living in the historic district who wanted to use vinyl instead of the wood siding originally on the house. The homeowner complained that he wasn’t aware of the district’s limitations against that and that the cost difference was substantial. John Kraft represented the homeowner and Rachele Cummins and her firm represented the Commission. The opinion raised interesting questions about when the burden imposed on a homeowner’s right to fix their homes by the government amounts to a Fifth Amendment taking under the U.S. Constitution which would require the government to pay the damaged homeowner for their loss. The trial found in favor of the homeowner and the Court of Appeals reversed in a 2 to 1 decision finding that historic preservation served a substantial public purpose.