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. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."