Prisoner who is party to civil action does not have a right to a transport order

As attorneys for Tippecanoe County and its Sheriff, our firm has more than our fair share of interaction with prisoners. So, even though it was a non-precedential memorandum decision, the Court of Appeal’s September 24, 2015, decision was of interest – in particular, where the Court reiterated that:

[A] prisoner who is a party to a civil action “has no right to a transport order,” Sabo v. Sabo, 812 N.E.2d 238, 242 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), and does not, as a matter a federal due process, have an “absolute right” to be present. Niksich v. Cotton, 810 N.E.2d 1003, 1008 (Ind. 2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1126 (2005).

At issue in this particular case was a foreclosure. The homeowner had been the subject of a foreclosure for some months. She entered an appearance but no answer. The bank filed a motion for summary judgment. The homeowner filed a response that asserted the bank was not entitled to enforce the note secured by the mortgage. However, she did not designate any evidence in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Two days before the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, the homeowner was arrested. Someone purporting to be her mother asked the court for a continuance. The court denied the continuance and entered judgment in favor of the bank.

The Court of Appeals said that it was not error for the trial court to conduct the hearing in the homeowner’s absence. The homeowner did not designate any evidence and, in the context of a summary judgment motion, she would not have been entitled to provide live testimony in any event. So, while she did not have an opportunity to argue her case at the hearing, because the bank had designated sufficient evidence to sustain its motion for summary judgment, it’s not clear what the homeowner could have done to prevent the judgment in any event.