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21st Amendment again shut out of federal cold-beer suit

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A federal judge Thursday affirmed a ruling that the Indianapolis-based 21st Amendment package liquor store chain is not entitled to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging Indiana’s law prohibiting convenience and grocery stores from selling cold beer.

Meanwhile, the challenge to Indiana’s Prohibition-era alcoholic beverage laws could come to a head later this month.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana signed an order affirming a magistrate’s earlier ruling that barred 21st Amendment’s participation in the case. Convenience and grocery store owners claim state laws that bar them from selling cold beer are unconstitutional. They claim violations of the Commerce Clause, the Equal Protection Clause and Indiana’s Equal Privileges Clause.

But 21st Amendment challenged the order because it claims its liquor licenses cost about $144,000 to $475,000, compared to $6,000 for retailers who cannot sell cold beer. On that basis, 21st Amendment argued it had an interest to protect and represent, and that federal court rules permit its participation in litigation that it said could devalue its licenses.

Young declined 21st Amendment’s request to overturn the magistrate’s order. “21st Amendment cannot identify a conflict that suggests the state will not vigorously defend its alcoholic beverage laws. The ultimate goal of this litigation, from the viewpoint of both the state and 21st Amendment, is to uphold the constitutionality of the present statutory scheme.

“The fact that the state’s motivation in defending this action is to uphold the law, while 21st Amendment’s motivation is to protect its business investment, is not a conflict sufficient to rebut the presumption of the state’s adequacy” in defending the suit, Young wrote.

“The magistrate judge found that 21st Amendment’s plans to file a cross-claim against the State that presupposes the court first rules against the state on plaintiffs’ claims would unnecessarily complicate the litigation and threaten to delay its resolution, to the prejudice of the existing parties. The court agrees,” Young wrote.

The case is Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Thornton’s Inc., Ricker Oil Company Inc., Freedom Oil, LLC, Steve E. Noe v. Alex Huskey, in his official capacity as Chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, 1:13-CV-784.

Last month Young set a preliminary injunction hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 20 in Room 349 of the Birch Bayh Federal Courthouse in Indianapolis. Two days have been set aside for the hearing.

 

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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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