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Judge upholds Delaware County smoking ban

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Delaware Circuit Judge Marianne Vorhees refused to strike down an ordinance passed this summer by the county commissioners that enhanced the county’s smoking ban by prohibiting smoking in bars and private clubs. In her ruling Wednesday, she said those who are unhappy with the ordinance should use the political process to try to change it.

The Delaware County Licensed Beverage Assoc., along with four American Legion posts and Low Bob’s Tobacco, filed a lawsuit against the Delaware County Board of Commissioners and the county health board claiming the enhanced ordinance is unconstitutional under the state and federal constitutions.

The plaintiffs took issue with the evidence relied upon by the county commissioners to pass the ordinance. Vorhees found that the commissioners had reliable scientific evidence on which to base their conclusion that secondhand smoke causes disease in nonsmokers and that the public interest would be served by eliminating secondhand smoke in public places.

The judge noted in her order that the Delaware County Health Department provided evidence showing no bar/restaurant had gone out of business since the ordinance’s effective date, and that in fact, 21 new restaurants had opened in the county since the ordinance went into effect, with eight of those serving alcohol.

Vorhees saw the issue as ultimately a political one. She wrote if people aren’t satisfied with the decisions made by the county commissioners, they can use the political process to change or repeal the ordinance. She then pointed out she wasn’t advocating that voters remove any of the commissioners because they passed the ordinance.

“This Court will decline to find the ordinance at issue unconstitutional … But the Court hopes Plaintiffs will seek review by a higher court. The appellate courts in Indiana have not addressed this issue. These courts may see the issue in a different light from the trial court,” she wrote.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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