Tag Archives: indiana

Indiana Councilman, Facing Murder Charges, Takes Oath of Office from Jail

Robert Battle, an incumbent East Chicago, Indiana Democratic Councilman who won his unopposed November reelection bid by obtaining just 308 votes, was sworn into office at the Porter County Jail on Friday where he faces murder and drug charges.

Battle was taken into custody on Nov. 17.

According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Lake County elections director Michelle Fajman has received a certified document noting that Battle was sworn in, reportedly by a fellow inmate who is also a notary public. The deadline by which newly-elected officials in the county are required to complete their swearing in ceremonies or vacate the seat in question is Jan. 30.

County officials say there is no way to prevent Battle from being sworn into office as Indiana state law allows him to retain his council seat, along with its $42,365 annual salary, until he resigns or is found guilty of the charges.

Members of East Chicago’s City Council also receive insurance and pension benefits worth over $12,000.

Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds told The Chicago Tribune, “There is no reason for me to deny it legally.

Battle is accused of killing Reimundo Camarillo Jr. on Oct. 12 and also faces marijuana and cocaine charges. He maintains that he shot Camarillo in self-defense and has pleaded not guilty.

The Times of Northwest Indiana pointed out that Battle’s attorney Walter Alvarez claims that Camarillo had pulled a knife on Battle prior to the shooting.

The drug charges stem from a different arrest during a traffic stop on Sept. 23.

Battle is set to stand trial in August.

It’s just a sad situation all the way around, especially for the family of the deceased,” said Fifth District Councilman Rosendo Cuevas, commenting on the death of Reimundo Camarillo Jr.

GOP County Chairman Says ‘Major Party Cartel’ Disenfranchises Indiana Third Parties

In an op-ed in Crawfordsville, Indiana’s Journal Review, Montgomery County Republican Party chairman John Pickerill denounced what he called a “major party cartel” between Republican and Democratic lawmakers that controls state election laws and grants special favors to major party candidates and voters at the expense of third parties.

Hoosiers have stood by and allowed our General Assembly to grant special privileges to the top two political parties, special privileges that all-but-guarantee leaders within those two parties will maintain a stranglehold on political power in our state,” wrote Pickerill.

State law defines a ‘Major Political Party’ as those two parties who got the most votes in the last election for Secretary of State. State law then hands entire control of our election system to these two parties.

Pickerill noted that only Republicans and Democrats can serve on or be employees of the Indiana Election Commission. He said that Republican and Democratic county chairmen “pick every county election board member and every poll worker.

Only [major party] members are allowed to be members of a recount commission, even if one of the candidates in the recount is a [non-major party] candidate. Is it any surprise that every statewide office is held by a [major party] member?” he said.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

Pickerill pointed out the fact that taxpayers, including supporters of third parties, are required to fund the top two parties’ primaries, which gives Republicans and Democrats an advantage in exposure over third parties.

He added, “Only major political parties get the special privilege to fill an office vacancy by precinct committeeman caucus. This guarantees if a [major party] officeholder is removed, resigns, or dies that his [party] gets to replace him with one of its own. But not true for any other party or independent. For example, if a Green Party county councilman resigned, the Green Party wouldn’t be allowed to pick his replacement. No, instead the other six county councilmen get to decide it. The flawed system encourages independents and third-party candidates to be weeded out.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, a ballot access and election law expert, said that “[Pickerill] could have [also] mentioned the straight-ticket device, and the law that gives the two major parties the top spots on the ballot, and the ballot access laws [favoring major parties], but he didn’t mention those points.” Indiana’s straight-ticket device is a mechanism allowing voters the option of conveniently choosing all of the Republicans or Democrats on the ballot in one click.

Pickerill, who clarified that his opinions are his own and do not represent the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, said, “The Republican Party and Democratic Party pretend to have opposing views, but when you look past all the rhetoric there’s no significant difference in what they are really supporting. Neither party is serious about reigning in the size of government to constitutional constraints. Neither enacts anything more than token protection of civil liberties and economic liberties. Both create new schemes to interfere with the economy and enact more and more government programs.

Pickerill called for a judge to rule the biased election laws unconstitutional and said, “A political party should have to win voters over with the best ideas, not by rigging the system.

The Truth in Media Project recently released a Consider This video highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Indiana Cannabis Church Challenges Prohibition In Lawsuit

The First Church of Cannabis filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis in Marion County Circuit Court on Wednesday, asserting that the state’s prohibition of marijuana use violates the church’s religious freedom. According to the church, cannabis is the church’s sacrament that “brings us closer to ourselves and others.”

The suit claims that Indiana laws punishing the use or possession of marijuana burdens the church’s exercise of religion in violation of the state and U.S. Constitution. The full text of the suit can be read here.

“Today we invite the state of Indiana and all its leaders to joyfully meet us in a court of law for clarifications on our core religious values. We look forward to engaging them on the high plane of dignity and discipline, with love and compassion in our hearts, to find a swift and sensible answer for our questions of religious equality,” said the church’s founder, Bill Levin, at a conference held outside of the Indiana Statehouse.

[RELATED: IRS Grants Nonprofit Status To Indiana Cannabis Church]

Proving that marijuana use is a tenet of religion protected by Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is likely to be a significant challenge, as several legal experts pondered the likelihood that The First Church of Cannabis will be successful in its suit.

“Is this a genuine religion, or is it a pretext?” Indiana University law professor David Orentlicher questioned. “Because you can imagine, with anyone who’s using a controlled substance, we can’t let them all say, ‘It’s my religion.’ The court has to draw a line somewhere.”

Fellow Indiana University law professor Daniel Conkle said “It has to be the case that it is the religious belief- not something else- that is motivating the use of marijuana.”

The First Church of Cannabis held its first service on July 1, the day that the state’s RFRA took effect. Despite initial plans to made by Levin to use marijuana at the church service, he instead smoked a cigar after the county prosecutor and police chief reportedly threatened to arrest any churchgoers. At the church’s second service on July 8, police presence was significant, with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department vehicles patrolling the street during the service.

In early June, Levin announced that The First Church of Cannabis had been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization.


Indiana Judge Rejects Religious Freedom Defense for Rastafarian’s Pot Charges

Last Tuesday, in Indiana, where Governor Mike Pence recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, a judge rejected a Rastafarian man’s legal defense that his felony pot possession charges should be reduced because his cannabis use and cultivation are religious rituals. According to Detroit Free Press, 30-year-old Jerome Scott, who is licensed to cultivate medical marijuana in Michigan but was caught with cannabis in Indiana, risks having his next license renewal denied over his felony conviction.

South Bend Tribune notes that St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller sentenced Scott to 18 months probation and said in court, “I understand there are many people who agree with you that marijuana should be legal, but you’re in the wrong state for that. What you knowingly and deliberately did in Indiana is break the law by not only cultivating it, but also distributing it.”

Scott was arrested following a March 19 incident in which he was robbed and shot by unknown suspects who are still at large. Though police who responded to the scene of the crime did not catch the robbers who attacked Scott, they did find evidence of a grow operation at Scott’s residence and arrested him instead.

“Cultivating my own cannabis is my way of not contributing to the black market and drug dealing tactics. In my natural state, I don’t believe I’m breaking any law. I know I’m not harming anyone or causing any harm to the community,” said Scott at his sentencing, denying accusations that he is a drug dealer.

Scott’s girlfriend, Melanie Schmidt, said, “All of his hard work, all of his studying, his whole life, they’re telling him he can’t do that.” She feels that the fact that the felony conviction could prevent him from continuing to cultivate cannabis for patients in Michigan is unjust.

South Bend Tribune‘s Christian Sheckler wrote, “To followers of the Rastafari faith, which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, cannabis is a holy herb, and smoking marijuana is considered a sacrament that brings peace, wisdom and a spiritual connection to nature. It’s unclear how many people identify as Rastafari in the South Bend area, as census figures do not include it among other religions.”

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media expose on the government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


An Ohio homeowner has been told to remove his unconventional Nativity scene

A man in Sycamore, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, has been told to remove his zombie-themed Nativity scene from his front yard after complaints were filed against him.

Jasen Dixon is the owner of the zombie Nativity scene as well as a haunted house, called 13 Rooms of Doom, in Indiana.  Rather than go out and buy a whole new Nativity scene, Dixon told FOX 19 he wanted to work with what he had available.  The end result is a manger complete with a pale baby Jesus and skeletal Mary, Joseph, and wise men.

After receiving the complaints, Dixon was told by the local town administration office he is facing a $1,000 fine if he does not remove the Nativity scene by Friday.  However, the office has said the content of the Nativity scene is not what the fine is for, rather how much space the scene occupies is in violation of township zoning codes.

Greg Bickford, who works for the Sycamore Township Administration Office, said, according to Talking Points Memo, the office does “regulate displays for content.”

Dixon told Reuters though that many people seem to approve of his homemade nativity scene after seeing people take selfies with the nativity scene.  A Facebook page has also been erected for the nativity scene which has attracted about 200 likes.

On the average we probably get 30 or 40 cars stop and taking pictures, getting out with their camera,” said Dixon according to the Raw Story.  I know if it was a real pretty Nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.”

Dixon has said he is still unsure how he is going to respond to the fine.

John Pistole, chief of the TSA, will resign at year’s end

The Transportation Security Administration’s longest serving chief, John Pistole, has announced he will retire from the position at the end of this year.

Pistole has only served the TSA for four years, and he began his tenure as chief in 2010.  Previously, Pistole served in the FBI for 26 years and achieved the rank of chief deputy of the government entity.

“No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public,” Pistole said according to USA Today. “I could not be more proud of all that our employees have accomplished together, particularly what they have done to help enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of transportation security while improving the passenger screening experience.”

During his four years as chief, Pistole faced many public relations crises concerning the unpopularity of the TSA in the public’s eye.  Much of the issues arose out of the use of X-ray body scanners at all airports, which produced near-naked images of flight passengers.  Eventually, according to Politico, the TSA did decide to remove the service in order to save face.

The latest issue which has caused a public outcry against Pistole and the TSA’s efforts to allow knives and small blades to be included in passengers carry-on baggage.  This plan was eventually dismissed thanks to the many concerns the public raised.

Anderson University, a private Christian college in Indiana, made an announcement Thursday stating Pistole will be brought up in the naming process for the possible position of president of the university.  Previously, Pistole had said he was going to take part in the world of academia, but refused to elaborate.

Supreme Court refuses to act on same-sex marriage issue

While more people are showing support for same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court made the decision Monday to not get involved with any appeals court decisions over same-sex marriage and allow these courts to decide how their states should move forward.

As a result of their refusal to get involved, five additional states have been added to the list of 19 others who allow same-sex marriage.  These five new states are Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to Reuters.  The appeals courts who rule over these states have already ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the past.

Six other states, who fall under the jurisdiction of those appeals courts, may also be affected by this decision and they may see same-sex marriage soon.  These six are Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

“The court’s letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states,” said president of the Freedom to Marry organization, Evan Wolfson, according to USA Today.  “But we are one country, with one Constitution, and the court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places.”

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, according to the BBC, “Today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action.”

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has made a decision which has suggested support for same-sex marriage.  Last year, the Supreme Court invalidated parts of a law which denied legally married same-sex partners spousal benefits.

All of the small victories for those in support of same-sex marriage make many believe the Supreme Court will soon make a decision which will tackle the issue nationwide.

Courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in a 2-1 decision earlier today that the Constitution protects same-sex marriage and states must recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The ruling comes after a lower court in Utah struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage, but the Utah attorney general’s office said in a statement according to the AP, they would be filing a petition to the Supreme Court for the review of this decision.

“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry,” reads the court’s decision.  “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

The decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming, will not go into effect immediately though.  As soon as the court ruled, the ruling was put on hold pending an appeal.

A similar decision was made in the state of Indiana today, where a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

District Judge Richard Young made the ruling, stating the ban was unconstitutional, but the Indiana Attorney General’s office said they had plans to appeal the ruling.  No action has yet been taken though.

This decision, unlike that of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, will go into effect immediately, allowing same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses today.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council Perkins and opponent to same-sex marriage, said in a statement after the decisions, “While judges can, by judicial fiat, declare same-sex ‘marriage’ legal, they will never be able to make it right.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states including the District of Columbia with recent polls showing a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.

Indiana GOP candidate defends Facebook comments

John Johnston, an Indiana GOP candidate running for the House of Representatives, is defending controversial comments on poverty he made via Facebook.

“For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts,” stated Johnston on Facebook.  “No one has the guts to just let [poor people] wither and die.”

Johnston continues by calling out political candidates from both sides of the aisle on not calling a “spade a spade,” and “enabling” this type of behavior. “As long as the Dems can get their votes, the enabling will continue.  The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether.”

Some have called Johnston out on these comments saying he wants to end welfare and food stamp programs.  Johnston has replied to these accusations saying he does not believe a thoughtful society would let people go hungry, and he was simply speaking in hyperbole.  He also said he has no intention of ending these programs.

Later, Johnston commented on a Facebook post from Mad Mac, a Facebook group which satirizes and makes fun of politics in northern Indiana, saying, with regards to his earlier statements, “Able bodied people are trapped in poverty because they have nowhere, no idea, no hope of anything other than the subsistence life that the government gives them.”

Video: School’s Lack of Respect For Child Who Committed Suicide Sparks Protest, Arrest

On April 2nd, more than 200 students gathered after lunch at Lake Central High School in Indiana to protest the fact that a child who had recently committed suicide was not allowed a moment of silence. The student was not currently enrolled. However, the other students felt that the child should be given a moment of silence anyway.

An unidentified person shouted “One moment of silence, for my [inaudible], over the intercom, that is all was are asking for from the school.”

Principal Robin Tobias then replies “Can you sit down now? You are not in charge here. I am.”

“We should be given a chance to grieve as a school,” sophomore Natalia Kuzbiel said.

After feeling the faculty had lost control of the peaceful demonstration they called the St. John police. Several officers arrived.

Tobias is heard saying on the video,  “You are sitting here for what you think is a good cause,” then went on to say some students think that it is a joke. Tobias stated that he was disappointed in the students. That is when a student spoke up and said that he was disappointed in Tobias. Police wasted no time and dragged the student by the arms and arrested him.

A moment of silence was finally given at 1:30pm. However, the moment of silence was not a schoolwide event. It was confined to those who were protesting.

Follow Sam on Twitter.


Obamacare falling apart at the seams: Indiana moves to nullify healthcare law

Indiana State House (Indianapolis, Indiana)

The state legislatures of Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and now Indiana have all taken steps to nullify the federal healthcare law.

Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said that this could create a formidable bloc, pulling the rug out from under the already flailing federal act. “If five states pass something like this, they’re going to be paying attention,” he said. “And if ten or fifteen do it? It’s game over for Obamacare.”

Indiana state Rep. Timothy Harman (R) along with two co-authors have introduced legislation which would virtually nullify Obamcare within the state of Indiana if passed.

The bills legal argument is rooted in anti-commandeering doctrine, which has been established by multiple Supreme Court cases, including Printz vs. United States. This doctrine states that the federal government cannot force or coerce states into carrying out federal law, regulations or programs.

House Bill 1406 (HB1406) would make it so that “an agency, officer, or employee of the state shall not…”engage in an activity that aids any person in the enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The legislation would also ban the state and its political subdivisions from establishing or participating in a health care exchange under the federal act.

HB1406 has been transferred to the House Ways and Means committee. Here it will need to be passed by a majority vote before being considered by the full Indiana House.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook and on Twitter @MichaelLotfi




If a group of Indiana school districts have their way Obamacare will be heading  back to the Supreme Court. According to a local Indiana Fox station, in total, 15 school districts have filed a joint lawsuit against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The suit takes aim at multiple defendants including the IRS, the Department of the Treasury and the USDHHS. The state of Indiana is the lead plaintiff.

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is representing schools in the lawsuit. Indiana Attorney Greg Zoeller will represent the state.

School corporations involved in the lawsuit include:

  • Benton Community School Corporation
  • Community School Corporation of Eastern Hancock County
  • John Glenn School Corporation
  • Madison Consolidated Schools
  • Metropolitan School District of Martinsville
  • Monroe-Gregg School District
  • Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation
  • North Lawrence Community Schools
  • Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County
  • Perry Central Community Schools
  • Shelbyville Central Schools
  • South Henry School Corporation
  • Southwest Parke Community School Corporation
  • Southwestern Jefferson County Consolidated School Corporation
  • Vincennes Community School Corporation

Indiana actually joins Oklahoma with regard to states currently filing lawsuits against the legislation. The defendants cite that the ACA employer mandate imposes significant penalties on employers who fail to provide all of their full-time workers with minimum coverage. The suit claims that the penalties would result in catastrophic financial consequences.

To avoid these penalties the school districts have cuts hours eliminating full-time positions. The lawsuit challenges new IRS regulations (similar to Oklahoma’s lawsuit). In addition, the Indiana lawsuit questions the constitutionality of the federal government imposing a federal mandate on the state of Indiana and public schools.

If successful in moving through appeals in lesser courts the two cases will make their way to the Supreme Court. Oklahoma has already made a major jump through the process.


Policeman Unjustifiably Tasers 64-Year-Old Alzheimer’s Patient In His Nursing Home

A 64-year-old Alzheimer’s patient was the victim of police brutality in the very place that was intended to be his safe haven — a nursing home.

The aged man, James Howard, was allegedly acting unruly with nurses at his old folks’ home in Peru, Indiana on June 17, 2012. When Howard would not calm down, staff called the police.


Officer Doug Martin and his partner Officer Jeremy Brindle showed up on the scene shortly.

According to Courthouse News, Martin and Brindle entered Howard’s room to find the 64-year-old wearing no clothes except for socks. He was sitting on a chair and apparently would not cooperate with the officers.

Brindle tried to handcuff Howard, but Howard was able to escape his grip. Martin then screamed “Taser!” and tasered Howard for over 30 seconds.

Martin was fired for excessive force and conduct unbecoming an officer. He tried to take his firing to court, but ultimately lost.

Martin’s termination was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

As reported by Courthouse News, “‘Jumper testified that Martin had specifically been instructed – in the recertification presentation – on the increased risk of death or serious injury for exposure over 15 seconds, whether due to multiple applications or continuous cycling,’ Judge Lloyd Bailey wrote for a three-member panel. ‘Intervals to achieve compliance were very short, with only a two-second interval between the third and fourth deployments. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Howard was handcuffed after the third Taser application,’ Bailey added.”

Based on the information available, it seems Martin’s termination was justified. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.