Attorney files suit against Indiana's JLAP

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A lawyer in good standing in Kansas is suing Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program officials, among others, claiming his civil and constitutional rights were violated during his application process to practice law in this state.

In the lawsuit filed Dec. 8 in the Northern District of Indiana's Fort Wayne Division, Bryan J. Brown - now an Allen County, Ind., resident - lodges more than two dozen state and federal law claims against the state. The suit, in a roundabout way, also targets the Indiana Board of Law Examiners for referring him to JLAP in January 2008. The case is Brown v. Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, Terry Harrel, et al., No. 1:09-CV-346.

Brown was admitted to practice in Kansas in 1996, and his suit says that an Indiana law license would allow him use the legal system on behalf of pro-life and other traditional Christian causes through the Arch Angel Institute that he created about two years ago. According to the federal court documents attached to the suit, a psychiatrist evaluation showed that Brown "appears to have moral integrity" and that a doctor "found nothing that should preclude Mr. Brown from taking the bar exam." However, that wasn't the conclusion reached by those administering the bar exam and attorney-admittance process, and he was referred to JLAP, the suit says.

The BLE interviews prospective Indiana attorneys wanting to take the bar examination and be admitted to practice here, and a committee reviews applicants' character and fitness to practice law. The JLAP is a separate entity, but both fall under the umbrella of the Indiana Supreme Court. In this case, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard is named as a defendant, as are JLAP leaders Terry Harrell, JLAP executive director, and Tim Sudrovech, JLAP clinical director, as well as unnamed co-conspirators John Does and Jane Roes. Brown is representing himself pro se, according to the suit.

"Upon information and belief all of the foregoing alleges that Plaintiff was the subject of a conspiracy to fail him through the JLAP process by Defendants and others ... Acting in collusion and out of biases, invidious discriminatory intent and animus causing them to target him because of his pro-life beliefs arising out of his traditional Christian worldview and constitutional, conservative, political perspective," the suit says.

This case comes on the heels of the potential class action suit of Jane Doe, et. al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, No. 1:09-CV-842, which accuses the bar examination application of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because of certain mental health questions. The plaintiffs are an Indiana woman admitted in Illinois who wants to practice in her home state, as well as the student ACLU chapter at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis where individuals could be impacted by the controversial question.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge William Lawrence in the Southern District's Indianapolis Division denied a state request to dismiss the action. He said defendants' arguments weren't convincing or persuasive, and there are no ongoing state proceedings that would cause the federal case to be stalled. On Nov. 30, the BLE had requested a protective order prohibiting the ACLU of Indiana from obtaining what it says is confidential information about applicants' mental health. No order has been issued on that motion, and still pending before the court are a handful of other issues such as whether class certification will be allowed.


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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise