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 think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.