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Federal judge still won't block Voter ID law

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A week before some Indiana voters go to the polls, a federal judge in Indianapolis has declined to block the state's voter identification law that's currently in flux following a state appellate court ruling in September.

U.S. Judge Larry McKinney on Monday denied a Cumberland attorney's motion for temporary injunctive relief, which would have stopped Indiana from being able to enforce its voter ID law during the Nov. 3 election.

The action comes in a federal case filed by Robbin Stewart to challenge the statute, which was passed in 2005 and has since been upheld by federal constitutional standards by the Supreme Court of the United States. Stewart filed the suit in April 2008 in Marion County, though it was later removed to the Southern District of Indiana to resolve the multiple federal and state constitutional claims. A year ago, Judge McKinney denied a request to certify a constitutional question for the Indiana Supreme Court's consideration. He also denied Stewart's first motion for preliminary injunction prior to the 2008 presidential election, and the judge referred to that previous order in denying this more recent motion.

What's changed since then, however, is an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling on Sept. 17 that struck down the state statute on grounds similar to what Stewart is arguing in his federal case. A unanimous three-judge panel for the state court reversed a ruling by Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid, who in late 2008 upheld the state statute and found it didn't violate Indiana Constitution Article 2, Section 2 and Article 1, Section 23. Instead, the appellate judges found the law "regulates voters in a manner that's not uniform and impartial," and as a result they instructed the trial judge to enter an order declaring it void.

The Indiana Supreme Court is currently considering requests from attorneys in the state suit to weigh in on that case, but justices haven't yet made a decision to grant or deny transfer.

Stewart's case remains open and a case management plan submitted earlier this year called for a two-day trial in November; it's unknown if that will still happen.

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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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