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Attorney files suit against Indiana's JLAP

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A lawyer in good standing in Kansas is suing Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program officials, among others, claiming his civil and constitutional rights were violated during his application process to practice law in this state.

In the lawsuit filed Dec. 8 in the Northern District of Indiana's Fort Wayne Division, Bryan J. Brown - now an Allen County, Ind., resident - lodges more than two dozen state and federal law claims against the state. The suit, in a roundabout way, also targets the Indiana Board of Law Examiners for referring him to JLAP in January 2008. The case is Brown v. Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, Terry Harrel, et al., No. 1:09-CV-346.

Brown was admitted to practice in Kansas in 1996, and his suit says that an Indiana law license would allow him use the legal system on behalf of pro-life and other traditional Christian causes through the Arch Angel Institute that he created about two years ago. According to the federal court documents attached to the suit, a psychiatrist evaluation showed that Brown "appears to have moral integrity" and that a doctor "found nothing that should preclude Mr. Brown from taking the bar exam." However, that wasn't the conclusion reached by those administering the bar exam and attorney-admittance process, and he was referred to JLAP, the suit says.

The BLE interviews prospective Indiana attorneys wanting to take the bar examination and be admitted to practice here, and a committee reviews applicants' character and fitness to practice law. The JLAP is a separate entity, but both fall under the umbrella of the Indiana Supreme Court. In this case, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard is named as a defendant, as are JLAP leaders Terry Harrell, JLAP executive director, and Tim Sudrovech, JLAP clinical director, as well as unnamed co-conspirators John Does and Jane Roes. Brown is representing himself pro se, according to the suit.

"Upon information and belief all of the foregoing alleges that Plaintiff was the subject of a conspiracy to fail him through the JLAP process by Defendants and others ... Acting in collusion and out of biases, invidious discriminatory intent and animus causing them to target him because of his pro-life beliefs arising out of his traditional Christian worldview and constitutional, conservative, political perspective," the suit says.

This case comes on the heels of the potential class action suit of Jane Doe, et. al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, No. 1:09-CV-842, which accuses the bar examination application of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act because of certain mental health questions. The plaintiffs are an Indiana woman admitted in Illinois who wants to practice in her home state, as well as the student ACLU chapter at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis where individuals could be impacted by the controversial question.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge William Lawrence in the Southern District's Indianapolis Division denied a state request to dismiss the action. He said defendants' arguments weren't convincing or persuasive, and there are no ongoing state proceedings that would cause the federal case to be stalled. On Nov. 30, the BLE had requested a protective order prohibiting the ACLU of Indiana from obtaining what it says is confidential information about applicants' mental health. No order has been issued on that motion, and still pending before the court are a handful of other issues such as whether class certification will be allowed.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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