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Man loses challenge to denial of admission to Indiana bar

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A Kansas attorney who was denied admission to join the Indiana bar can’t bring his suit against various state actors in federal court because of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Bryan K. Brown, who was a practicing attorney in Kansas before moving to Indiana, sought admission to practice here. The Indiana Board of Law Examiners referred Brown to the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program for an evaluation. He was eventually denied admittance because he couldn’t demonstrate good moral character and fitness under Admission and Discipline Rule 12.

Brown appealed the decision to the Indiana Supreme Court, which left the BLE’s decision intact. The Supreme Court of the United States denied Brown’s petition for certiorari. He then brought a suit in federal court against JLAP, Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and other state actors alleging federal and state constitution violations. Brown believed he was being prevented from joining the Indiana bar because of his religious beliefs.

Judge Theresa Springmann dismissed the suit, finding the claims were barred under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because they were inextricably intertwined with the Indiana Supreme Court’s adjudication of his bar application and finding that his as-applied challenges to Admission and Discipline Rules were unripe. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

“Because Brown’s claims of religious bias require a federal district court to review the judicial process followed by the Indiana Supreme Court in deciding the merits of Brown’s bar admission application, Brown’s claims are ‘inextricably intertwined’ and fall squarely under Rooker-Feldman’s jurisdictional bar,” wrote Judge Richard Cudahy in Bryan J. Brown v. Elizabeth Bowman, et al., No. 11-2164. “Further, a simple reading of Brown’s complaint shows that his religious discrimination claims in district court are essentially the same arguments he made to the Indiana Supreme Court.”

 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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