SCOTUS denies cert to Kansas attorney seeking to practice in Indiana

June 1, 2016

The third time wasn’t the charm for a Kansas attorney who wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to take his lawsuit challenging Indiana’s decision to not admit him to practice. The nation’s highest court denied his writ for certiorari for the third time Tuesday.

Bryan J. Brown, who was a lawyer in good standing in Kansas at the time, sought admission to practice in Indiana in April 2007. The Indiana Board of Law Examiners required Brown to be evaluated by the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Program and ultimately denied his admission. According to court records, Brown met with a psychiatrist and psychologist from the JLAP provider list.

Brown sent letters to the BLE about the process and raised concerns about religious bias. After he was denied the chance to take the bar in Indiana, Brown sued JLAP and other state actors, claiming his civil and constitutional rights were violated. He said in his lawsuit that the Indiana law license would allow him to use the legal system on behalf of pro-life and other traditional Christian causes through the Arch Angel Institute he created in 2007.

He lost his case before the Indiana Supreme Court and later in federal court based on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in 2010, 2012 and now on Tuesday.

“The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld, and the United States Supreme Court passed on reviewing, actions of the Indiana Board of Law Examiners predicated upon the philosophical beliefs and constitutional whistle-blowing communication of an applicant who has been licensed in Kansas since 1996, never disciplined by any court, admitted to the SCOTUS since 2000 and active as a constitutional law attorney in half the federal appellate courts in our nation,” Brown said in an email Wednesday. “The late Indiana University law professor Patrick Baude warned of this politicization of the bar admission process in a 1993 essay. My case proves that Professor Baude’s concerns remains relevant, albeit likely only as to Christian conservative bar applicants, since leftists are so well protected from statist inquisitions via the body of law developed by the SCOTUS in the early 1970s.”  

The U.S. justices also denied cert to an Elkhart County man currently serving time in state prison for molesting a four-year-old girl in 2006. James K. Chenoweth dated the victim’s mother for approximately three months, but later lived with his ex and her new husband. During this time, he molested the girl several times.

He received concurrent 40-year sentences for the two Class A felonies in 2009. The Court of Appeals affirmed in August 2010. The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer in October 2010. Chenoweth sought post-conviction relief, which was also denied in state court, leading to his request for the U.S. Supreme Court to take his case.  

The SCOTUS’ Tuesday order list is available here.


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