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Public interest in reducing poverty is grounds for application of doctrine of laches

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In overturning a lower court’s ruling, the Indiana Court of Appeals opened the door for the doctrine of laches to be applied to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles by finding the suspension of a Bloomington woman’s driving privileges conflicts with the public’s interest in reducing poverty.

The Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday reversed the trial court’s denial of a request for a preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings in Leslee Orndorff v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehilces, R. Scott Waddell, in his official capacity as commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 53A04-1206-PL-299.

From 2002 to 2004, Leslee Orndorff received 17 driving convictions and had her driving privileges suspended 18 times. In 2008, she moved with her two children to Bloomington, obtained a valid driver’s license and got a job as a personal care attendant.

Four years later, the BMV discovered the Orndorff qualified as a habitual traffic violator and sent her a notice that her driving privileges would be suspended for 10 years, effective May 29, 2012.

Orndorff filed a complaint against the BMV alleging that the equitable doctrine of laches prevented the state agency from suspending her driving privileges and requesting a preliminary injunction to stop the suspension. The trial court denied her request for a preliminary injunction, concluding, in part, that it was unlikely that laches would apply to the government.

For Orndorff to assert laches against a government entity, she had an additional requirement to show that the government was not acting in its sovereign capacity to protect the public welfare.

The trial court noted that Orndorff will suffer adverse effects if her driving privileges are suspended and that those adverse effects, namely that she will lose her job and her family will be thrust into poverty, threaten the public interest. However, it ruled that the adverse effect that will be suffered by Orndorff’s family does not appear to constitute the sort of public threat that should prevent the BMV from suspending her driving privileges.

The COA disagreed, finding that the public has a real and tangible interest in reducing poverty and that since 2008, Orndorff has not incurred any driving convictions.

Writing for the court, Judge Terry Crone concluded, “Based on the particular circumstances of this case, we have concluded that suspending Orndorff’s driving privileges presents a threat to the public interest and that no public interest will be served by suspending her driving privileges.”

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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