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Judge temporarily blocks fines for House boycott

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Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer has blocked the collection of a $1,000-a-day fine imposed on boycotting lawmakers in the Indiana House of Representatives, granting a temporary restraining order until he can hold a hearing on the merits of the issue next week.

The TRO came late Thursday in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the legislative fines imposed by House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, on Democrat House members who do not show up for official business because of the controversial right-to-work legislation. Rep Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, filed the lawsuit after last year’s five-week walkout. He and his colleagues were fined for the walkout which was in protest to the same right-to-work issue.

In addition to Crawford, the case lists Reps. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, and Shelli Vandenburgh, D-Crown Point, who were added to the suit on Thursday. The court action challenges the legality of the fines being deducted from their pay, not whether those fines could be imposed.

Dreyer ruled late last year that state courts don’t have the ability to interfere with the Indiana General Assembly’s constitutional authority to pass laws or its own internal rules, including how it compels attendance or imposes fines. But the trial judge also ruled that if the legislative body is acting as an employer, then the state must adhere to state statute on employee-wage issues and those claims are ones that trial courts can consider.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has appealed that decision. Zoeller issued a statement Thursday following Dreyer’s order.

"The order is unfortunate and is a textbook example of why we have separate branches of government and why courts should not allow the judicial system to be used as a legislative tactic during the heat of the session," Zoeller said in the statement.

Dreyer set a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 27 to hear the merits of the case.

 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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