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SCOTUS denies case between Indiana agencies on 11th Amendment

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The Supreme Court of the United States won’t take an Indiana case which delved into whether the 11th Amendment prohibits an independent state agency from suing a traditional state agency in federal court.

Justices on the nation’s highest court issued an order list Monday denying a writ of certiorari in the case of Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services v. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, et al., No. 08-3183, a case involving the state’s practices and programs regarding mentally ill inmates and what access exists to information on inmates.

The Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services had sued the state in late 2006 in order to gain access to records on a mentally disabled adult patient who’d died while at LaRue Carter Memorial Hospital to find out if she had been an abuse victim. U.S. Judge Larry McKinney decided the defendants had to hand over the records because the victim was an adult and her parents weren’t appointed as legal guardians, but the FSSA argued that releasing the records would violate the victim’s parents’ privacy.

A three-judge appellate panel for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, but in April 2010 the appellate court en banc reversed that panel ruling on the grounds that the 11th Amendment doesn’t bar the plaintiff IPAS from suing the FSSA. Specifically, the ruling found that the federal Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986 allows that – as well as peer review of records relating to treatment within that facility. Circuit Judge David F. Hamilton authored the majority en banc opinion that held the litigation could proceed, though Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook disagreed and wrote a dissent saying he’d dismiss and let the administrative process play out.

The SCOTUS ruled April 19 on a similar issue about the 11th Amendment out of Virginia – that a federal court can hear a lawsuit for prospective relief against state officials brought by another agency of the same state. The case was Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy v. Stewart, No. 09-529.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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