ILNews

School-fee case comes to a close - again

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Parents who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Evansville school fees have won another victory in Indiana appellate courts, this time relating to attorney fees.

The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a 21-page decision today in Frank Nagy, et al. v. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation, No 82A05-0609-CV-488, which involves a new issue stemming from an Indiana Supreme Court ruling last year. The case arose after the local district began charging every student a $20 student-services fee in fall 2002 as a way to make up for a $ 2.3 million deficient that year and a $ 5.3 million shortfall in 2003. The fees were ultimately declared unconstitutional in March 2006.

But on remand, the trial court denied the parents' requests for attorney fees on the issue of whether they're considered the "prevailing party." Parents appealed, arguing they are the prevailing party for purposes of the U.S. Constitution that provides for awarding attorney fees to parties who prevailed in actions brought to enforce federal constitutional rights.

"Turning to the specifics of the case before us, we must reject the trial court's determination that the Parents were not the prevailing party under Section 1988," the court wrote. "This outright victory upon the merits of the state constitutional claim fits within the generous definition of 'prevail' adopted by the federal Supreme Court."

However, left to be determined at the trial court level is how the fees should be divvied up to each set of parents - the Nagys and Bracketts, as the Bracketts joined the original suit later and were the only ones to bring a federal claim relating to attorney fees.

"Although we have addressed certain issues with regard to attorney fees. The ultimate calculation of reasonable attorney fees is a task for the trial court upon remand," the court wrote.
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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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