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COA rules on 'In God We Trust' plate suit

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Not charging an administrative fee for Indiana's "In Got We Trust" license plates doesn't violate the state constitution, affirmed the Indiana Court of Appeals today in an unpublished decision.

In Mark Studler v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Ronald L. Stiver, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Indiana BMV, No. 49A02-0804-CV-385, Mark Studler appealed the trial court order denying his motion for summary judgment and granting the Indiana BMV's motion for summary judgment. The suit stems from Studler having to pay $40, including a $15 administrative fee, to get an "Environment" license plate. Studler claimed not charging an administrative fee for the "In God We Trust" license plate, but charging a fee for the purchase of a special group recognition license plate, violated Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution. In his suit, Studler wanted the court to either allow him to get the "Environment" license plate without paying additional fees or require the BMV to charge for the "In God We Trust" plate.

The appellate court unanimously affirmed the offering of the "In God We Trust" license plates without the payment of an administrative fee to be constitutional. The Court of Appeals concluded the legislature's classification of license plates as Chapter 25 and non-chapter 25 license plates, under Indiana Code Section 9-18-25, is reasonably related to the inherent characteristics of the plates, and having to pay an administrative fee is uniformly applicable to all Chapter 25 license plates and not applicable to non-chapter 25 plates, such as the "In God We Trust" plate.

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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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