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Suit against traffic court sent back to state court

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A lawsuit against the Marion Superior traffic court over fees has been moved back to state court.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence ordered to state court Toshiano Ishii, et al. v. Marion County Superior Court No. 13, et al., No. 1:09-CV-1509, a suit which claims Marion County Judge William E. Young violates residents' constitutional rights by imposing additional fees on those who unsuccessfully challenge their tickets and by closing proceedings to the public.

The plaintiffs filed the suit in Marion Superior Court No. 11 in December 2009. According to the suit, Toshiano Ishii appeared in traffic court to contest a ticket; he lost and was fined an additional $400. Matthew Stone was cited for improperly wearing a seatbelt. He wears it differently because of a pacemaker and chose not to challenge the ticket because of Judge Young's policy. Adam Lenkowsky asked to enter the courtroom as a member of the public and was denied entrance.

They claim when Judge Young took the bench in traffic court in 2009, he instituted a policy that defendants who come before his court and are found guilty would be fined up to an additional $500 and could even be assessed up to $10,000 plus court costs. The traffic courtroom is also open only to defendants and prevents parents of minors to be present during proceedings. The threat of these fines violates the federal and state constitutions, according to the suit.

The case was moved to U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division in late December at the city's request.

But attorneys want the case back in state court, so they voluntarily dismissed their federal claims. In the order entered Thursday by Judge Lawrence, merely doing that does not divest the federal court of subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The District Court had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1367, which provides for the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over claims based upon state law that are closely related to the federal claims in a case.

However, there is a presumption that a District Court judge will relinquish jurisdiction over any supplemental claim to the state courts once federal claims are removed. There are exceptions to that general rule, but none of those apply in the instant case, the judge continued.

Judge Lawrence ordered the case back to Marion Superior Court and also denied plaintiffs' request that defendants be sanctioned for suggesting that federal court still had jurisdiction over the case.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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  5. 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!

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