The Indiana Court of Appeal has set a date and time to hear arguments for
the Porter County Council’s decision to appeal a ruling by a Jasper County
Circuit Court judge that asserts the county does not have legal grounds to
leave from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Attorney Mitch Peters, who is representing the county in the appellate
court, said the oral arguments are scheduled to be given on Jan. 20 at 2:00
Filing a written case argument in September, Peters said the county council
makes the argument that the county was entitled to withdraw when the
legislation establish the RDA was created in 2005 by the Indiana General
Assembly. The second argument is if the county does not have the authority
to withdraw, the law should be considered as special legislation.
“It’s a complicated argument but the constitution provides that laws have to
be applied equally. Here, that’s not the case,” said Peters.
Representing the RDA is the Indiana Attorney General’s Office who made the
argument in last January’s Jasper County Court hearing that the legislation
and its subsequent amendments never indicated a right to withdraw for Porter
County and its other members: Lake County, the City of East Chicago, the
City of Hammond, and the City of Gary.
Jasper County Court Circuit Judge ruled on April 9, almost a year after the
Porter County voted 4-3 in 2009 to revoke its membership, that the current
law prohibits withdrawal. Council members argued since they voted to
“opt-in” to the RDA, they should “opt-out,” but Potter’s ruling stated the
council voted only on a funding mechanism for leveraging its required $3.5
million allotment for its membership, never voting to join the RDA.
The council on April 16 voted 5-2 to appeal Potter’s ruling to the Indiana
Court of Appeals.
Peters said he is prepared to give his argument in January but expects that
whichever side prevails at the appellate court, the other side will appeal,
meaning the case will eventually make its way to the Indiana Supreme Court.