ILNews

Judge grants injunction for judicial candidates

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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For the time being, Hoosier judicial candidates can't be sanctioned for answering a questionnaire about their views because of a federal judge's decision today.

U.S. District Judge Theresa L. Springmann in Fort Wayne issued a preliminary injunction earlier this afternoon, stopping Indiana from enforcing rules that prohibit judicial candidates from responding to surveys on their views.

The 36-page order came in Torrey Bauer et. al. v. Randall T. Shepard et al., No. 3:08-CV-196-TLS. The non-profit Indiana Right to Life Committee filed the suit April 18 on behalf of Bauer, a candidate for Kosciusko Superior Court, and Marion Superior Judge David Certo, who is running for the court for the first time after being appointed by the governor to fill a vacancy last year. The judicial speech case stems from a survey the organization sent out in March requesting candidates state their views on policies and court decisions related to abortion, euthanasia, and other issues prior to the primary election.

Most declined to reply to the survey, citing an advisory opinion from the Judicial Qualifications Commission warning judicial candidates against making "broad statements on disputed social and legal issues" since that could run the risk of violating the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, the suit states.

In her ruling today, Judge Springmann found the plaintiffs showed that a preliminary injunction is warranted in this case.

"The Plaintiffs have demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of succeeding on the merits and that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not issued," she wrote. "The harm to the Plaintiffs in denying the request outweighs the harm to the Defendants in granting it."

Judge Springmann pointed out that at this stage, the plaintiffs haven't been required to prove their full case and that this injunction is merely meant to "maintain the relative positions of the parties until the case is resolved on the merits." This injunction doesn't require candidates to answer the questionnaire, but stops them from being disciplined for participating, she noted.

This suit is similar to one dismissed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2007 - that suit also came from the Northern District, where the trial judge had ruled the "pledges" and "commitments" clauses of the state's judicial conduct code were unconstitutional. In Indiana Right to Life, et al. v. Randall T. Shepard, et al., No. 06-4333, the Circuit Court dismissed Indiana Right to Life's complaint against the state judicial and disciplinary commissions that Canon 5A(3)(d)(i) and (ii) is unconstitutional, stating the group had no standing to bring the complaint because no candidates had come forward to challenge it and none had been disciplined for a violation of the canon.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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