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Ballard v. Lewis

Supreme Court of Indiana

May 7, 2014

MAYOR GREGORY BALLARD, Appellant (Intervenor below),
MAGGIE LEWIS, JOHN BARTH, AND VERNON BROWN, Appellees (Plaintiffs below)

Appeal from the Marion Superior Court. No. 49D12-1302-PL-5483. The Honorable Heather A. Welch, Presiding Judge. The Honorable Robert R. Altice, Jr., Judge. The Honorable Cynthia J. Ayers, Judge. The Honorable Thomas J. Carroll, Judge. The Honorable James B. Osborn, Judge.

On Emergency Transfer Pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 56(A).

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: David M. Brooks, Indianapolis, Indiana; Andrew P. Seiwert, Corporation Counsel, City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: William R. Groth, Geoffrey S. Lohman, Indianapolis, Indiana.


Dickson, C.J., and Rucker, David, Massa and Rush, JJ., concur.


Page 191

Per Curiam.

The Redistricting Statute for Marion County assigns the task of redrawing the County's legislative districts to the judiciary if the County's legislative and executive branches become deadlocked over required redistricting. Peterson v. Borst, 786 N.E.2d 668, 672, 676 (Ind.), reh'g denied, 789 N.E.2d 460 (Ind. 2003). In the case before us the Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council and Mayor Gregory Ballard agreed on an ordinance dividing the County into legislative districts, and the legal question is whether that was done too early to satisfy the Redistricting Statute. A divided panel of trial court judges answered that question " yes" and then drew new legislative districts. We hold that because this case does not present a redistricting impasse that requires judicial intervention, Mayor Ballard is entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, we reverse.

Page 192

Facts and Procedural Background

In the fall of 2011, the majority of the City-County Council (" Council" ) were members of the Republican Party, as was Mayor Ballard. An election for the Council's twenty-nine seats[1] occurred on November 8, 2011. In that election, members from the Democratic Party were elected to a majority of seats on the Council and thus would become the Council's majority upon being sworn into office on January 1, 2012. The Plaintiffs in this action -- Councillors Maggie Lewis, John Barth, and Vernon Brown (together " Councillor Lewis" ) -- were either elected or re-elected to the Council in that 2011 election, and all three are members of the Democratic Party.

On November 22, 2011, Mayor Ballard signed an order establishing new precinct boundaries for the County. On December 5, 2011, Council President, Ryan Vaughn, introduced Proposal 353, 2011 (" Proposal 353" ) to the Council. Proposal 353 was a plan to reconfigure the twenty-five districts for elections to the Council beginning in 2015, using the precinct boundaries established in the Mayor's November 22, 2011 order and data from the 2010 federal decennial census. After conducting four public hearings the Council's Rules and Public Policy Committee forwarded Proposal 353 along to the full Council.

On December 19, 2011, the Council voted to approve Proposal 353 by a vote of fifteen to fourteen, with all fifteen Republican Councillors voting for the Proposal and thirteen Democratic Councillors and one Libertarian Councillor voting against the Proposal. On the same day, Councillor Vaughn signed Proposal 353 as Council President. Proposal 353 was renamed " Ordinance 61, 2011" (" Ordinance 61" ). On December 22, 2011, Ordinance 61 was presented to Mayor Ballard who approved and signed the Ordinance on January 1, 2012.

Later in 2012, the Council, then with a majority of Democratic members, approved an ordinance that would have established different Council districts. All sixteen Democratic Councillors voted for that ordinance, and all thirteen Republican Councillors voted against it. Mayor Ballard vetoed that ordinance in December 2012. The Council did not vote to override the veto, so that ordinance did not become law.

In February 2013, Councillor Lewis filed a complaint against Mark A. Sullivan, Patrick J. Dietrick, and Beth A. White, each in his or her official capacity as a member of the Marion County Election Board (" MCEB" ). The complaint sought a declaration that Ordinance 61 failed to comply with the " temporal parameters" of Indiana Code section 36-3-4-3, the Redistricting Statute for Marion County (" Redistricting Statute" ). Specifically, the complaint alleged that with Ordinance 61, the Council divided the County into districts in the year 2011, rather than during the year of 2012 as required by the Statute. The complaint also asked the court to enjoin the MCEB and anyone else from using the districts established in Ordinance 61 to conduct the 2015 municipal elections. In addition, Councillor Lewis urged the court to draw new districts for the County.

The court granted Mayor Ballard's request to intervene as a defendant, and Mayor Ballard and members of the MCEB filed an answer to the complaint. Mayor Ballard moved for summary judgment, and Councillor Lewis moved ...

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