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District judge sends voter ID suit back

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

"Courts coordinate voter ID cases" IL Jan. 6-19, 2010

A federal judge ruled against a Cumberland man in his federal challenge to Indiana's voter identification law, but has remanded his pending state claims back to Marion Superior Court where the case initially started.

In the case of Robbin Stewart v. Marion County, et al., No. 1:08-CV-586, U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment April 16 for Marion County, Clerk Beth White, and the State of Indiana. The case challenged the state's voter ID law that's been upheld on one front by the Supreme Court of the United States and is currently pending on state issues before the Indiana Supreme Court. Stewart initially filed the case in state court in 2008, but it was removed to federal court. He argued the law violates the First, Fourth, 14th, and 24th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The judge ruled that Stewart's First and 14th amendment claims are fore- closed by the decisions that went to the SCOTUS in Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, 458 F. Supp.2d 775 (S.D. Ind. 2006), and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008). He also ruled that claims on the voter ID law being a poll tax should also fail because the 7th Circuit already noted that it's not a poll tax in Crawford. Stewart's Fourth Amendment challenge failed because those rights aren't affected, and there was no impact on his rights because he had a choice to not present his license in order to vote or fill out a provisional ballot.

"Even if requiring identification at the polls does constitute a search, it still does not violate the Fourth Amendment," Judge McKinney wrote. "... The State of Indiana has an important interest in preventing voter fraud. Asking every voter who appears at the polls for identification in a consistent manner is a lawful means of serving this interest."

The judge decided not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Stewart's pending claims under Indiana state law and remanded the case to Marion Superior Court for consideration. The remand comes after the Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in March in League of Women Voters of Indiana, et al. v. Rokita,
No. 49S02-1001-CV-00050, which challenges the voter ID law on state claims and last year saw the Indiana Court of Appeals strike it down as unconstitutional.

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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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