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Minister sues Christian bookstore

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A Northwestern Indiana minister has filed a lawsuit against a Christian bookstore claiming racial discrimination when he was told to leave the store and that he would be arrested if he ever returned.

Minister Alvin Murphy, an African-American, and his godson, James Green, went to the Family Christian Stores in Merrillville with the intent to shop for books and a crucifix. This was the first time Green had visited the store, but Murphy was a regular and had shopped there for nearly 14 years. Murphy is also a member of the store's perks programs for pastors and families, according to the complaint.

Julie McNutt, an assistant manager at the store, had called the shopping plaza's security because she suspected another African-American in the store of stealing. Security called Hobart Police to respond to McNutt's call.

According to the complaint, McNutt assumed Murphy and Green were associated with the man suspected of stealing and had Hobart Police escort them out of the store. Murphy told police he intended to purchase the items he was carrying.

The Hobart police officer told Murphy that McNutt had called police and requested they issue a citation to Murphy and Green to never return to the store and that if they did, they would be arrested for trespassing.

In his suit filed May 22 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Alvin Murphy v. Family Christian Stores, Inc., et al., No. 2:09-CV-146, Murphy is suing for violations of 42 U.S.C. Sections 1981, 1982 and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He believes he was the victim of racial profiling.

According to a press release issued by Murphy's attorney, Trent A. McCain, Murphy originally filed a charge against the bookstore with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, which found probable cause that Murphy and his godson's rights were violated by the store. The results of that finding led to the federal lawsuit.

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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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