ISBA calls out the Gov

September 21, 2009
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The Indiana State Bar Association wants the governor to know it didn’t appreciate his comments regarding the Court of Appeals’ ruling on our voter ID law, so it issued a statement late Friday afternoon.

It’s short and to the (polite) point: Gov. Daniels and anyone else can disagree about the ruling, but making disparaging comments about individual judges isn’t the way to go.

Here’s a snippet of the release in case you haven’t seen it:

“While the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) recognizes that Gov. Daniels has championed the cause of judicial independence, the State Bar is nevertheless compelled to emphasize that comments such as those attributed to the governor are not helpful in advancing appropriate respect for the courts and the judicial process, and honoring the separation of powers doctrine.”

The governor said after the ruling it was an “act of judicial arrogance” and said he expected the ruling to be overturned because the authoring judge (Judge Patricia Riley) has been reversed before. He also claimed the ruling was transparently partisan.

His reaction to the ruling has been transparently partisan.

The majority of the Court of Appeals judges sitting on the bench right now were appointed by previous Democratic governors; that’s not to say all are Democrats. If someone he appointed made this decision or if it was made by a known-Republican, would Daniels still be crying foul?

For a governor who made me happy with his veto to a bill that would have made Court of Appeals judges run for election, I question how he can stick his nose into this judicial decision with these types of comments. It’s one thing to say you’re disappointed in the ruling and plan to appeal; it’s another to call out the authoring judge and say her decision will be a “footnote to history eventually.” Never mind the fact the decision was unanimous. Gov. Daniels hasn’t called out Judges Paul Mathias or James Kirsch that I’ve read or heard.

The controversy surrounding this ruling could be more fodder for politicians who want to elect appellate judges. It also shows that even with the appointment process (a committee selecting nominees for the governor to choose), politics inevitably will arise.

What’s your take on the ISBA’s statement or the governor’s comments? Should Gov. Daniels have kept his mouth shut or was it a breath of fresh air to hear a politician say exactly what’s on his mind?
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  • When judges get political, they can expect political criticism. Especially, when they legislate. As a forty year member of the Bar and of the ISBA, I resent the implication that
  • I find it interesting that anytime a judge hands down a decision that goes against the beliefs of the Republican party, Republicans quickly cry afoul and accuse the judge of legislating from the bench -- as if it\'s impossible that a judge could decide a case that goes against their beliefs without any political motive. Grow up!

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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