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Judge orders refund of legislative fines

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The Democratic members of the Indiana House who faced fines for failing to attend sessions in protest of right-to-work legislation will be reimbursed any amount withheld in 2011, according to a ruling from Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer. The judge also ordered that any fines imposed this session may not be collected.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, fined the Democratic representatives who left the state during the 2011 legislative session and deducted the money from the legislators’ pay and per diem compensation. Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, filed the lawsuit challenging the legality of the fines being deducted from their pay. Bosma again fined House Democrats who walked out during the current legislative session in protest of right-to-work legislation.

Late last year, Dreyer ruled that the imposition of the fines is beyond the court’s subject matter jurisdiction, but the collection of the fines remained at issue. He decided Monday to order a permanent injunction for defendants – Indiana Auditor Tim Berry, Indiana House Principal Clerk M. Caroline Spotts and the state of Indiana – to return the money withheld from the plaintiffs during the 2011 session and refrain from withholding amounts for the 2012 session without compliance with applicable Indiana wage payment law.

The seizure of the plaintiffs’ pay violates the Indiana Wage Payment statutes and due process.

“The clearly determinative factor in this case is the extreme risk of an erroneous deprivation if no due process is afforded,” wrote Dreyer. “House members may be absent for a variety of reasons, not specifically for the purpose of obstructing legislative action. They should have, at a minimum, a fair opportunity to be heard and present evidence to justify their absence before denial of pay or imposition of any other penalty becomes effective.”

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General plans to appeal the permanent injunction, believing the disagreement over the collection of fines belongs in the legislative branch.

“The interruption that led to the recent legislative fines ended when session resumed and legislators now should work out among themselves whether to collect fines. We disagree with the trial court’s prolonging this internal dispute and the precedent it would establish, and we will respectfully ask a higher court to redirect the dispute promptly and conclusively to the place it belongs: the Legislature,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear the state’s separate appeal of Dreyer’s Dec. 6 ruling that declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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