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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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