ILNews

Supreme Court will hear candidate certification dispute

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The candidacy of a Cass Circuit judge is now going before the Indiana Supreme Court - even though the candidate in question has been a sitting judge for this entire year.

Justices have granted transfer in J. Bradley King, et al. v. Leo T. Burns, et al., 09A02-0610-CV-847, which questioned the candidacy of judicial office-seeker Leo Burns in last year's primary and general election.

Burns, who was selected to fill the vacancy in the November 2006 ballot after the May primary, was not certified by the state because the Democratic county chair filed documents at the wrong office and didn't get the necessary notices to the state for Burns' name to go on the ballot. Despite the filing error, Burns gained an injunction in September ordering the state to certify his candidacy. The Indiana Election Division appealed Cass Circuit Judge Julian Ridlen's ruling and the Court of Appeals denied that Jan. 31.

In the meantime, however, Burns' name appeared on the ballot and he won in the Nov. 7 election over a Republican rival.

The three-judge appellate panel in January wrote, "We decline to disenfranchise the voters of Cass County by overturning their decision that Burns should be their circuit court judge, based on a technical violation of a law that had no practical effect on the validity of the Nov. 7, 2006 general election."

Noting that the election division could point to no practical consequences of Burns' form being filed incorrectly, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

"Burns clearly was the Democratic Party's chosen candidate .... That choice was communicated accurately to Cass County voters. They elected Burns to office. He is qualified to hold that office," the court wrote. "The 'eminently practical doctrine' formerly known as 'de minimis non curat lex' .... Proclaims that the law does not redress trifles."
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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