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. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  2. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  3. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  4. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  5. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

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