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Justices hear voter ID case arguments

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

"COA strikes down law" IL Sept. 30-Oct. 13, 2009

The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments March 4 about the state's controversial voter identification law, and is considering whether the requirements impose an unconstitutional burden on some voters who can't obtain the necessary photo ID cards.

The case is League of Women Voters of Indiana and League of Women Voters of Indianapolis, et al. v. Todd Rokita, No. 49S02-1001-CV-50, and comes after the Court of Appeals struck down the law in September.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher argued that Indiana precedent from 1922 allows the legislature to regulate voting as needed, as long as the requirements aren't "grossly unreasonable and not practically impossible to comply with."

Meanwhile, Indianapolis attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman for the League of Women Voters said that if the justices send the case back to Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid for it to proceed, the league would have more time to flush out those issues and explore evidence on both sides.

All five justices posed sharp questions to both sides.

"There is a whole group out there that effectively has been denied the right to vote," Justice Robert D. Rucker said. "How can you convince us this is a system of integrity, if so many people can't find a way to vote? How does that inspire confidence that it's a system we can trust and rely on?"

Justice Frank Sullivan also wondered why no individuals have come forward as plaintiffs in the three election cycles - six or seven actual elections - since this law took effect, and he also questioned why the state hasn't had any documented cases of in-person fraud if this is such a big issue.

That was a topic several justices' questions focused on. Recognizing that some burden may exist to prevent voters from obtaining the required ID to cast a ballot in-person, they hesitated on procedural issues since the case doesn't include any affected voters as plaintiffs.

"Should people have to go to that kind of trouble, just to exercise that single most fundamental right?" Justice Sullivan asked rhetorically. "(It's) a lot to have to go through just to do that. It seems like there's a real hardship on those people to produce those documents required. But on this record, we don't have those people before us."

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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