ACLU sues State Board of Law Examiners

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The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against the members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, alleging the state's bar examination application violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, claims the application discriminates against some applicants because of perceived mental impairments by asking intrusive questions about an applicant's mental health, including whether or not he or she has been diagnosed with any mental, emotional, or nervous disorders.

If an applicant answers yes, they are required to complete another form with detailed information. It is then reviewed by State Board of Law Examiners members who determine whether further information or medical records are needed to assess the person's fitness to practice law in Indiana.

This is an issue that has been raised in three or four other states either in bar or medical licensing applications, said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk. He said the states' Supreme courts found ADA violations.

According to the application, the information is treated confidentially and the purpose is to determine fitness of the applicant to practice law. It also states the fact of treatment for mental health problems or addictions isn't in itself a basis for denying an applicant admission to the bar.

The suit was filed on behalf of Porter County resident Jane Doe, and others similarly situated. Doe is a member of the Illinois bar and an Indiana law school graduate who in order to practice here must take the bar exam. She has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and receives counseling. Doe hasn't seen any impairment in her ability to function in law school and since graduation because of her disorders. She applied for the bar in the fall of 2008. She answered the questions regarding her mental health status truthfully, upon which the members of the State Board determined she had to contact the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program for a thorough review of her mental heath records and an evaluation. She then withdrew her application.

The suit argues Doe and others who have been diagnosed with various disorders are subjected to unnecessary and intrusive inquires into their mental health histories and have additional burdens imposed upon them. Doe wants to apply again in February 2010 but doesn't want to have to produce her medical records and be interviewed by JLAP.

The suit, Jane Doe, on her own behalf and on behalf of a class of those similarly situated v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, in their official capacities, No. 1:09-CV-0842, seeks class action status and asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment that the board violated the ADA. It also asks the court enter a preliminary injunction to prevent the defendants from asking the class any questions solely concerning past or present mental health diagnoses or treatment, and from preventing the board from discriminating against the plaintiffs because of those diagnoses.

Falk wasn't sure how long the mental health questions had been included in the application, but he said it had just been redone and the questions were kept in the revision.

Both the State Board of Examiners and Attorney General said they couldn't comment on the pending litigation.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.