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Judge unsure about ACLU student chapter

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An Indianapolis-based federal judge wants to know more before he decides whether a student chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has standing to seek class certification in a lawsuit against the Indiana Board of Law Examiners. At least one student alleges her constitutional rights are violated by questions on the bar exam application.

But the judge found that an Illinois attorney who wants to sit for the Indiana bar exam does have standing to seek class certification, and he's granted that status in this litigation while the issue involving the student chapter at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis remains open.

U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence on Friday issued a 10-page order in Amanda Perdue, et al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, 1:09-CV-842. In the past week, the ACLU of Indiana amended its complaint to include Perdue's real name after the judge had previously ruled that she couldn't proceed anonymously.

Perdue challenges the BLE requirement that she provide information about her physical and mental health when filling out her application to take the state bar exam. She'd answered "yes" in response to a question about her mental health, and as a result the BLE requested additional detail and referred her to the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program for a mental health review. Instead of consenting, Perdue withdrew her application and in July sued the state over the issue, alleging that some of the application questions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ACLU student chapter later joined her as a plaintiff to prevent the BLE from inquiring about future bar applicants' mental health. One student, the president of the student organization, signed on and said she was aware of at least one group member who intended to take the Indiana bar exam at some point and could be impacted by these questions.

Both parties requested class certification, but the state argued that the student chapter doesn't have standing to be a class representative in this case.

"As an initial matter, the Defendants vigorously argue that the ACLU is not an appropriate class representative.... Much of the Defendants' argument against the ACLU's role as a class representative appears to be an allegation that the ACLU lacks standing," the judge wrote. "The Plaintiffs Reply does not address this issue. Because the Court is presently unable to determine whether the ACLU has standing, the parties are ordered to brief this issue. Until the Court determines that the ACLU has standing, the Court will not address whether it is an appropriate class representative."

Judge Lawrence gave the ACLU three weeks to file a brief in support of its standing, and 14 days from then for the state to reply before he again considers the issue.

As for Perdue, the judge determined she met the standard required by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure about class action status and that it should be granted. A hearing is set for March 12 in the case, but that date may be continued to a later time. The anticipated two-day trial is planned for April 2011.

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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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