Appeals court spares Teising trip to jail, for now
Plus, Baird’s opponent, kicked off GOP primary ballot, sues to get back on in 4th District. Our delegation on Ukrainian president’s address to Congress. And Purdue Pete’s soap opera cameo
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APPEALS COURT SPARES TEISING A TRIP TO JAIL, FOR NOW
Jennifer Teising was spared from reporting to jail Thursday to start her sentence on her felony theft conviction. The Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted the former Wabash Township trustee a stay, pending an appeal of her conviction after a three-day bench trial in Tippecanoe County.
Teising was convicted on 21 counts of collecting her trustee salary for nearly 10 months in 2020 and 2021 after selling her West Lafayette home and residing most of that time outside the township. After a three-day bench trial, Tippecanoe Superior 5 Judge Kristin McVey ruled that Teising did not maintain a legal residence in Wabash Township as she stayed in Anderson, eastern Tippecanoe County and Florida for all but 27 nights during that time.
McVey week gave Teising a three-year sentence. The judge also gave Teising 10 days – until March 17 – to report for the first of her 124 days scheduled in Tippecanoe County Jail and 124 days in Tippecanoe County Community Corrections, so her attorney had time to file an appeal. McVey declined to allow bail to allow her to stay out of jail, though.
The Court of Appeals didn’t have the same qualms, granting a stay for the start of her jail time, pending the appeal. The Court of Appeals ruling also said Teising did not need to pay bail while she remained out.
“We are delighted that the Indiana Appellate Court today stayed execution of Ms. Teising’s sentence pending completion of her appeal,” Karen Celestino-Horseman, Teising’s attorney, said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “In making its decision, the court was required to examine the probability of reversible error. As petitioner, Ms. Teising had to show that her case ‘will probably be among the ten or fifteen percent which are reversed on appeal.’ She looks forward to having the Court of Appeals review her case.”
Celestino-Horseman’s petition about bail, filed this week, also included hints about how she planned to approach an appeal. In it she argued that Indiana’s constitution, which requires township trustees to live in their township, didn’t contemplate making that provision criminal and tied to theft charges. She also argued that that the conviction misread the law when it came to what it means to “reside” somewhere.
I laid most of that out when Teising’s petition was filed. You can read that here:
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington did not immediately respond to questions about the Court of Appeals ruling or about Teising’s promise of an appeal.
Here’s a look at more about the case from the day Teising was sentenced:
4TH DISTRICT CANDIDATE SUES AFTER GETTING KICKED OFF BALLOT
Charles Bookwalter, booted from the May primary ballot when Republican Party leaders challenged his candidacy, filed a lawsuit this week to get back on.
In court documents filed Tuesday in Marion County, Bookwalter, a U.S. Army veteran and business owner from Lebanon, asked for an emergency stay that would allow his name to appear on the ballot in Indiana’s 4th District against U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, the Republican incumbent seeking a third two-year term.
His claim: The “Election Commission determination is invalid and illegal in numerous ways.”
Two Republican Party officials in the 4th District challenged Bookwalter’s candidacy, based on a state law that says candidates in a primary must have asked for that party’s ballot in the most recent two primaries they voted in. (The General Assembly changed the law in 2021 to go from a one- to a two-primary rule.) If candidates can’t show that, they must be prepared to get the party chair from their home county to sign off on the bid.
Bookwalter admitted to the Election Commission that he’d voted in only one Republican primary, in 2016. He told the commission he’d tried to get the Boone County Republican Party chair, Debbie Ottinger, to sign off on him as a member of the party, but she declined. Bookwalter claimed Ottinger suggested he run for other Republican seats, instead.
Despite Bookwalter’s insistence that there was “no question that I am a Republican” and that the Indiana ballot access law was unconstitutional, the Election Commission ruled that he didn’t meet the threshold and that his argument was better made with the legislature.
Bookwalter went to court, instead. There, his complaint argues that a law meant to prove the bona fides of candidates was being used as a way to protect incumbents.
“To construe (the law) to permit county party chairs to withhold ‘certification’ in order to protect incumbent candidates for a primary challenge by persons they admit are party members … violates the spirit and purpose of (election law’s) requirement that such parties hold primaries and allow their members to elect the party’s nominee,” the court documents filed this week argue.
“Time is of the essence, and he will be irreparably harmed with no recourse if his name is not placed back on the ballot,” Michelle Harter, his attorney, wrote in the petition.
A hearing scheduled for Thursday morning in Marion Superior Court 4 was continued, according to court documents, to make sure all parties had been notified of the lawsuit. Court records didn’t list a new hearing date, as of Wednesday afternoon.
How soon Bookwalter would need an answer from a judge and still be able to get his name on the May primary ballot wasn’t immediately clear. A spokesman for the Indiana Secretary of State’s office was researching that Wednesday. Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush said she didn’t have an immediate answer, either. Though Roush said some mail-in ballot are due to be sent out Saturday.
Contacted Wednesday, Bookwalter said he was holding off on further comment.
For more, here’s how the Indiana Election Commission hearing went and about Bookwalter’s campaign:
Here’s Bookwalter’s case, filed in Marion County this week:
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT’S APPEAL: Here’s the reaction from our congressional delegation when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more U.S. help to stave off a Russian invasion, now three weeks old.
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun:
U.S. Sen. Todd Young:
U.S. Rep. Jim Baird: Earlier this week, during a stop in West Lafayette, Baird, a 4th District Republican, said he was in favor of supplying jet fighters to Ukraine.
“As far as I'm concerned, we need to help those folks,” Baird said Monday. “The courage they’ve displayed in fighting for their homeland, I think we need to give them all the equipment we can give them. … I think if we can help them – and that’s all they’re really asking for, weapons and that kind of thing – we should.”
‘THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL’ … AND PURDUE PETE: Nice cameo, circa NCAA Tournament time, by Purdue Pete in a bit about the basketball games cutting into traditional soap opera time Thursday and Friday. The only objection was this line: “I’d like him gone by tomorrow.” Don’t say that. This is supposed to be the year with a deep run for the Boilers. And that starts with a first round game against Yale, at 2 p.m. Friday – right in “The Bold and the Beautiful” time slot.
ICYMI … THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK, EASTERN AND CENTRAL: If the nation goes with daylight saving time, year round, that’s going to reopen the debate in Indiana, right? Do we stick with Eastern time or switch to Central? Weigh in here: Indiana’s time zone question.
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