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Court orders BMV to hold hearing on whether felon can get ID

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A federal judge has found a convicted felon’s due process clause claim “has teeth” and that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles must determine whether to issue the man an identification card even though his last name on his birth certificate and Social Security card do not match.

Joesph A. Worley filed a lawsuit for declaratory and injunctive relief after the BMV refused to issue him a photo ID under the name he uses. His birth certificate says “Joseph Alan Ivey” but after his mother married his biological father a year later, the Social Security card issued to Worley said “Joesph A. Worley.” He has used that name ever since.

He had been issued a license in the past – it was suspended in the mid-1990s on two occasions for drunken-driving offenses. He was convicted of felony drunk driving in 2007 when he did not have a valid license. In 2011, he attempted to obtain a photo ID and then driver’s license from the BMV. The agency initially refused because the name on his documents didn’t match. Later in the year, he did obtain a photo ID and then a driver’s license, but the BMV shortly thereafter sent a letter seeking he return the license because they were “improperly issued.”

Worley said in his suit that he has not filed for a name change with the courts because of the cost.

“We conclude that his claim was intended to redress Defendant’s conduct, which has effectively impeded his ability to vote, marry, or adopt his natural child,” Judge Sarah Evans Barker wrote in the Oct. 9 order. “The importance of these basic, community-oriented functions cannot be overstated. Thus, we concluded that Mr. Worley’s argument that he has ‘a reasonable expectation [to] be issued a photographic identification card so that he can participate in our democracy on equal terms with other qualified citizens’ has teeth.”

Barker noted that two cases pending on appeal deal with a similar issue, in which two Marion County courts have read I.C. 34-28-1-1 in conjunction with 34-28-2-1 to bar the plaintiffs’ otherwise legitimate petitions for a name change.

“The prescribed state law remedy, although generally acceptable, fails to afford Mr. Worley full protection for important interests,” she wrote.

Barker ordered the BMV to conduct an evidentiary hearing before the Nov. 6 elections. She acknowledged the state agency’s interest in trying to prevent voter fraud, and that at the hearing, it can decide whether Worley’s conduct is fraudulent or otherwise improper.

The case is Joesph A. Worley v. R. Scott Waddell, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 1:10-CV-1259.

 

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