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Zoeller moves to strike Ritz’s suit against Board of Education

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Attorney General Greg Zoeller Thursday asked a court to throw out a lawsuit filed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz against the Indiana Board of Education.

The AG’s office filed a motion to strike and asked Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg to set a hearing on its request. Zoller argues Ritz’s suit brought by Department of Education attorneys Bernice A.N. Corley and Michael G. Moore is barred by statute. Ritz, a Democrat, alleges in the suit that board members appointed by Republican governors acted illegally to strip her office of oversight of the A-F school-grading system.

The system adopted under Ritz’s predecessor, Republican Tony Bennett, was widely criticized after the discovery of emails indicating the department under Bennett’s leadership improved the grades of charter schools connected to campaign donors.

The motion from Zoeller, a Republican, cites I.C. 4-6-2-1 that provides the AG “shall prosecute and defend all suits that may be instituted by or against the state of Indiana.”

“Without the consent of the Attorney General, no state official may hire or utilize private counsel to represent herself in an official capacity suit,” the motion claims. “…Therefore, as Chair of the Indiana State Board of Education and Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, the representation of Plaintiff Ritz’s legal interests lies exclusively in the hands of the Attorney General,” the filing says.

Ritz’s suit claims the actions of board members, including drafting a letter to Republican legislative leaders to advocate for changing who’s in charge of school grades, violated Indiana’s Open Door law. The filing by the AG’s office makes no reference to the allegations in Ritz’s suit.

“Attorney General Zoeller noted that his office has not taken sides on the Superintendent’s Open Door Law complaint or on the underlying policy disagreement” between Ritz and the board of education, the AG’s office said in a statement.

“For purposes of this motion filed today, the Attorney General does not represent the 10 individual board members, but rather state government itself and he is asserting that legal authority.  The Attorney General will monitor any related legal matters that might arise and represent state interests as needed,” the statement said.

As of Thursday afternoon, no hearings had been scheduled in the case.

Zoeller's motion comes a day after education board member Tony Walker asked the court to dismiss the suit.
 

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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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