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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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