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AG's office says disputes over legislative rules should not be decided in court

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear the state's appeal in the lawsuit over collecting fines imposed on absent members of the Legislature. The state's highest court on Friday ruled 4-1 to accept jurisdiction of the interlocutory appeal sought by the Indiana attorney general's office, which represents the state and officials named as defendants in the legislative fines lawsuit, Crawford v. Berry.

In a separate hearing Friday in the same underlying lawsuit, Marion Superior Court Judge David Dreyer heard arguments on the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction but has not ruled yet. The trial court extended a temporary restraining order preventing collection of fines by way of payroll deduction for another 10 days.

The attorney general's office contends that under the separation of powers, a trial court cannot interfere in the business of the Legislature or its internal rules.

"Under our Constitution, disagreements between legislators over legislative rules should be hammered out and decided within the legislative branch, not the judicial branch,” said Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “Because the plaintiffs brought this internal dispute to the trial court, the state now must ask a higher court to send the dispute back to the Legislature where it fundamentally and properly belongs.”

A ruling in the underlying case Crawford v. Berry, originally litigated last year, was being appealed by the state. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted transfer, meaning the interlocutory appeal will be heard there, bypassing the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Zoeller noted that if the Marion Superior Court's eventual ruling on the preliminary injunction motion is appealed by either side, then that appeal also could be heard in the Indiana Supreme Court at its discretion, and the two appeals could be consolidated.


 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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