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Court consolidates Lake County voter cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court has stepped in to settle conflicting rulings from two Lake County courts regarding early-voting sites in East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond, deciding that consolidating the cases to proceed in Lake Superior Court is the "most orderly approach."

In the order State of Indiana ex rel., John B. Curley, et al. v. The Lake Circuit Court and Hon. Lorenzo Arredondo, as judge thereof, No. 45S00-0810-OR-555, issued late Tuesday evening, the majority noted that normally such actions are viewed with disfavor and the court doesn't grant writs of mandamus and prohibition when there is an adequate remedy through the appellate process; however, it noted the conflict in this case between the Circuit and Superior courts' decisions warrants the high court's attention.

Realtors John B. Curley, as chairman of the Lake County Republican Committee, and Jim B. Brown, as a member of the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, filed an action Oct. 2 in Lake Superior Court against the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration and Judge Thomas Philpot, not individually but as the Lake County Clerk. On Oct. 6, the United Steelworkers District 7; Hammond Teachers Federation Local 394, American Federation of Teachers; Earline Rogers; and Roxanna Luco filed an action in Lake Circuit Court against the Board of Elections and Registration.

The board removed the Superior Court case to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana; while the case was pending before the District Court, the Superior Court entered a temporary restraining order directing the board not to open early-voting sites in Lake County. The Circuit Court entered a temporary restraining order three days later directing the board to open early the voting sites.

The plaintiffs in the Superior Court case filed the original action contesting the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court over the similar lawsuit.

Citing Indiana Trial Rule 42(D), Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Brent Dickson, Frank Sullivan, and Theodore Boehm ruled that the Circuit Court case should be consolidated with the Superior Court case, with both matters proceeding before the Superior Court on a consolidated basis. The majority upheld the preliminary injunction entered by the Circuit Court Oct. 14 directing the board to open early-voting sites, and instructed the parties to exercise any right to a change of judge.

Justice Robert Rucker dissented from the majority's decision, writing he would deny the requested issuance of the writ and allow the Circuit Court's restraining order to stand. Curley and Brown, who sought this order, didn't request or mention that they wanted the cases consolidated. In their petition, the only relief they requested was to have the Circuit Court lawsuit dismissed, wrote Justice Rucker.

Justice Boehm concurred in result with the majority in a separate opinion, but agreed with Justice Rucker that ordinarily this type of writ would be denied because dismissal under Trial Rule 12(B)(8) is not mandatory. However, because the conflicting rulings between the courts causes uncertainty for voters as to whether they can vote before Election Day, he concurs with consolidating the cases in order to expedite the resolution.

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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