Former Wabash Trustee urges state supreme court not to take up residency case
Former Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising submitted a filing this week calling for the Indiana Supreme Court to uphold an Indiana Court of Appeals decision in her favor.
Teising was initially found guilty last year of continuing to take her trustee salary while no longer residing within Wabash Township.
But in December, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned that decision, ruling the former trustee could not lose her residency until she first established it elsewhere.
That pushed Attorney General Todd Rokita to petition the supreme court to take up the case. He argued that the appeals court ignored clear signs that Teising had ceased to reside within Wabash Township.
Now, Teising’s lawyer, Karen Celestino-Horseman has responded, urging the supreme court not to take up the case. She underlined that the period of Teising’s absences from the district coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because she worked remotely, away from the township during a time when physical presence around others was discouraged, she was charged with theft,” Celestino-Horseman wrote.
Much of Rokita’s initial filing hinged on a 1988 case - State Election Board v. Bayh - which found that then-Secretary of State Evan Bayh had maintained residency in Indiana despite renting an apartment in Washington D.C. and working for a D.C.-based law firm before taking office.
That case found that “reside within” meant something different for citizens compared with officeholders because a “physical presence is necessary to retain office once elected.”
Under that stricter definition, Rokita argued that as an office holder, Teising did not meet the requirement.
In her response, Celestino-Horseman wrote that Rokita’s reliance on Bayh was “misplaced”, noting that when Bayh was decided “there was no pandemic resulting in an emergency declaration that closed nearly all government offices to the public.”
When reached for comment, Rokita’s office responded that “taxpayer money should not be handed over to elected officials who don’t stick around to serve their community.”
When asked for a statement, Celestino-Horseman said she would let the brief “speak for itself.”
It’s not clear when the court will decide whether it will take up the case.