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Indiana legislator sues over walk-out pay deductions

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An Indianapolis lawmaker is suing the state for deducting some of his pay to cover fines imposed against him because of a legislative walkout earlier this year.

Fort Wayne attorney Mark GiaQuinta filed a suit June 16 in Marion Superior Court on behalf of Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, who took part in the five-week walkout that shut down the House in February and March because of a right-to-work bill.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, used a House rule to assess fines against the 39 lawmakers who had left the state during the walk-out, deducting the fines from their legislative pay.

In Crawford’s case, the fines total more than $3,000 and also affect his retirement pay. The suit challenges how the fines were imposed but not the fines themselves.

Specifically, the suit says Indiana Code 22-2-8-1 prohibits employers from taking fines out of paychecks and it’s considered a Class C infraction to do so. In addition to that, the suit says it’s official misconduct for an elected office-holder to violate the law and that amounts to a Class D felony.

State Auditor Tim Berry, the State of Indiana, and Bosma are named as defendants in the suit, which is the only legal challenge to the fines to date. Crawford also filed a civil tort claim in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office last week, making similar allegations.

Spokesman Bryan Corbin in the AG’s office declined to comment on the suit or tort claim, but referred to previous statements Attorney General Greg Zoeller had made in April when saying that no formal advisory opinion would be issued on the matter.

“Assessing fines against House members is an issue exclusively for the legislative branch of state government to decide,” he said. “Under the constitutional separation of powers, neither the judicial branch nor the executive branch has the authority to prevent the House from imposing sanctions. Since the Indiana House is on strong legal ground in imposing fines and in doing so through payroll deduction, the Office of the Attorney General as state government's lawyer will defend the authority of the legislative branch to determine its own rules for House members.”
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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