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Indiana man takes lawyer-admission case to 7th Circuit

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A Fort Wayne man who claims he’s being prevented from becoming an Indiana attorney because of his religious beliefs is asking the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether a lower federal court properly dismissed his case.

Bryan K. Brown filed an opening brief earlier this week with the federal appellate court, contending that the federal courts should be able to decide his constitutional claims even though they relate to action from the Indiana Supreme Court that prevented him from becoming an attorney.

Admitted and in good standing as an attorney in Kansas, Brown filed this suit in the Northern District of Indiana in late 2009 on grounds that he was improperly required to go through the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and that the Board of Law Examiners and Indiana Supreme Court rejected his admission to the state bar.

He contends that an Indiana law license would allow him use the legal system on behalf of pro-life and other traditional Christian causes through the ArchAngel Institute that he created several years ago, but the BLE determined his application to take the bar exam should be denied and that he can’t seek admission again until 2014. Brown raised two-dozen constitutional arguments against JLAP director Terry Harrell, program psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, and Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, as well as several others involved in his case.

In March 2011, U.S. Judge Theresa Springmann dismissed Brown’s case and found that precedent prevents her as a federal judge from addressing what was a state-court action prohibiting his admission. She relied on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine that involves two rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1923 and 1983, which together hold federal District courts lack jurisdiction over lawsuits from state-court losers and that any jurisdiction remains solely with the nation’s highest court. In Brown’s case, the SCOTUS has already denied his petition for writ of certiorari.

Judge Springmann relied on 7th Circuit precedent from a decade ago to determine that Brown’s claims are “inextricably intertwined” with the state action and that the federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to issue a decision on his constitutional claims.

“The Plaintiff is correct that he is not asking the Court directly to review the Indiana Supreme Court’s order. However, the Court cannot allow artful pleading or argument to obscure what the practical effect of any potential judgment would be – a review and modification of the Indiana Supreme Court’s final order,” she wrote.

The judge also dismissed Brown’s other claims based on immunity arguments, finding that the state defendants are entitled to immunity through the 11th Amendment or as witnesses.

Now, Brown is asking the 7th Circuit to overturn Judge Springmann’s ruling and find the Rooker-Feldman doctrine doesn’t apply to his case. Brown raises questions about the scope of the doctrine and the reach of expert witness immunity, based on his contentions that defendants in this case weren’t properly sworn in under oath and therefore are prevented from being dubbed “witnesses” as required by the state.

The state defendants have until mid-August to file response briefs in the appeal.

This is one of three similar suits filed in recent years against the Indiana Supreme Court, Board of Law Examiners, or JLAP relating to how individuals are admitted to practice in this state.

Another case filed by Clarence Carter involved arguments that the state was improperly requiring him to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam, but a Southern District judge and the 7th Circuit have dismissed that suit.

In July 2009, a Porter County woman filed a federal suit against the BLE in Amanda Perdue, et al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, No. 1:09-CV-842, charging that certain questions regarding fitness violate her Americans with Disabilities Act-rights relating to mental health. That case remains pending before U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the Southern District, and the arguments that had been scheduled for July 22 have been continued until Aug. 24.


 

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  • Calling other victims of
    the political-correctness-on-steriods movement. If John is correct, I would very much like to network with others who were run through the JLAP and/or BLE pc machinery. www.archangelinstitute.org
  • why denied in the first place
    I still dont understand why Indiana denied Bryan's license in the first place.

    IMO state bar admission should not be a tool of political correctness. This is not the first time this has happened.
    • It is refreshing to see
      that journalistic integrity yet exists. I truly did not think this paper would cover my 7th circuit filing due to political correctness concerns. Good for y'all. More details on my pending appeal at www archangelinstitute dot org or dot com.

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    1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

    2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

    3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

    4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

    5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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