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Indiana Supreme Court to hear fraternity case in IU East visit

Students at Indiana University East will have an unusual opportunity this month to see the Indiana Supreme Court in action. And not only that, but the court will be considering a case that’s likely to be of interest to college students.

The five-member court will visit IU East April 23 to hear arguments in Yost v. Wabash College. The hearing, which is open to news media and the public, will take place at 12:45 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium in Whitewater Hall. Seating is limited and doors will open an hour before the arguments begin.

Law_scales_blogThe facts in the case date from September 2007. According to court documents, Brian Yost was then an 18-year-old freshman at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and was a pledge of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Yost and several friends decided to toss an older fraternity member into a creek to mark his 21st birthday. Members responded by “showering” Yost, grabbing him and holding him under a shower.

Yost resisted, a member put him in a choke hold and he was dropped, resulting in physical and mental injuries. Later he sued the college, the campus chapter of Phi Kappa Psi and the national fraternity organization, alleging they were negligent and caused his injuries.

The trial court ruled against Yost, and he appealed. The Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed that the national fraternity wasn’t at fault. But it split on whether Wabash and the campus fraternity chapter could be liable, ruling 2-to-1 that they were not. Yost appealed to the Supreme Court.

Robert Ramsey, associate professor of criminal justice at IU East and an organizer of the event, said it’s the first time the Supreme Court has visited campus since 2006. The visit is sponsored by the criminal justice program and the Wayne County Bar Association.

“I would certainly urge anyone who can attend to take advantage of this somewhat rare opportunity to watch the Indiana Supreme Court in a live session,” he said.

After the hearing, there will be public reception at 1:45 p.m. at the Gallery in Whitewater Hall. The hearing will be streamed live on the IU video site.

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