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Judge unsure about ACLU student chapter

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An Indianapolis-based federal judge wants to know more before he decides whether a student chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has standing to seek class certification in a lawsuit against the Indiana Board of Law Examiners. At least one student alleges her constitutional rights are violated by questions on the bar exam application.

But the judge found that an Illinois attorney who wants to sit for the Indiana bar exam does have standing to seek class certification, and he's granted that status in this litigation while the issue involving the student chapter at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis remains open.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence on Friday issued a 10-page order in Amanda Perdue, et al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, 1:09-CV-842. In the past week, the ACLU of Indiana amended its complaint to include Perdue's real name after the judge had previously ruled that she couldn't proceed anonymously.

Perdue challenges the BLE requirement that she provide information about her physical and mental health when filling out her application to take the state bar exam. She'd answered "yes" in response to a question about her mental health, and as a result the BLE requested additional detail and referred her to the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program for a mental health review. Instead of consenting, Perdue withdrew her application and in July sued the state over the issue, alleging that some of the application questions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ACLU student chapter later joined her as a plaintiff to prevent the BLE from inquiring about future bar applicants' mental health. One student, the president of the student organization, signed on and said she was aware of at least one group member who intended to take the Indiana bar exam at some point and could be impacted by these questions.

Both parties requested class certification, but the state argued that the student chapter doesn't have standing to be a class representative in this case.

"As an initial matter, the Defendants vigorously argue that the ACLU is not an appropriate class representative.... Much of the Defendants' argument against the ACLU's role as a class representative appears to be an allegation that the ACLU lacks standing," the judge wrote. "The Plaintiffs Reply does not address this issue. Because the Court is presently unable to determine whether the ACLU has standing, the parties are ordered to brief this issue. Until the Court determines that the ACLU has standing, the Court will not address whether it is an appropriate class representative."

Judge Lawrence gave the ACLU three weeks to file a brief in support of its standing, and 14 days from then for the state to reply before he again considers the issue.

As for Perdue, the judge determined she met the standard required by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure about class action status and that it should be granted. A hearing is set for March 12 in the case, but that date may be continued to a later time. The anticipated two-day trial is planned for April 2011.

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

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  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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