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7th Circuit grants city, mayor’s request for stay

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The doctrine of “pendent appellate jurisdiction” allows the city of Anderson to ask the District Court to stay proceedings in a case alleging city employees were fired because of political affiliation, ruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case against the city is directly tied to the result of the case against the city’s mayor.

Robin Allman and other former employees of the city of Anderson fired by Mayor Kevin Smith sued him and the city, claiming their firings violate their First Amendment rights. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted summary judgment in favor of the mayor on nine of the 11 plaintiffs, finding the two remaining plaintiffs’ claims may not be barred by the mayor’s claim of immunity.

Pratt refused to certify the case for interlocutory appeal or grant Smith’s motion to stay the proceedings pending appeal. The city also sought a stay of the claims pending against Smith after its summary judgment motion was denied. In order to prevail, the city has to show that Smith hadn’t violated aany constitutional rights, which would eliminate the city’s liability because its liability is derivative from the mayor’s.

Pratt denied both Smith’s and the city’s motions to stay.

The 7th Circuit reversed and stayed the proceedings against the mayor and the city, citing the doctrine of pendent appellate jurisdiction, which it noted is an embattled doctrine.

“The prospect of two trials involving the same facts and witnesses is not an attractive one. If the district court proceedings against the city are stayed, and the merits panel decides that the mayor did not violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, there will be no trial. If (with the stays granted) the merits panel decides that the mayor did violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights but is entitled to qualified immunity, there will be one trial, against the city. Finally, if the merits panel rejects the mayor’s appeal, the plaintiffs can try their claims against both the mayor and the city in a single proceeding. Each of these outcomes is preferable to allowing the proceedings in the district court against the city to continue while the mayor’s appeal is under consideration by this court,” Judge Richard Posner wrote in Robin Allman, et al. v. Kevin Smith, et al., 14-1792.  
 

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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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