For immediate release: Jan 27, 2012
Posted by: [Attorney General]
Contact: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970

Attorney General: Legislative dispute belongs in legislative branch, not in trial court

Indiana Supreme Court decides to hear State's interlocutory appeal

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Supreme Court will hear the State's appeal in the lawsuit over collecting fines imposed on absent members of the Legislature. The state's highest court today ruled 4-1 to accept jurisdiction of the interlocutory appeal sought by the Indiana Attorney General's Office, which represents the State and officials named as defendants in the legislative fines lawsuit, Crawford v. Berry.

In a separate hearing today in the same underlying lawsuit, Marion County Superior Court Judge David Dreyer heard arguments on the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction but has not ruled yet. The trial court extended a temporary restraining order preventing collection of fines by way of payroll deduction for another 10 days.

The Attorney General's Office contends that under the separation of powers, a trial court cannot interfere in the business of the Legislature or its internal rules. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today issued this statement:

"Under our Constitution, disagreements between legislators over legislative rules should be hammered out and decided within the legislative branch, not the judicial branch. Because the plaintiffs brought this internal dispute to the trial court, the State now must ask a higher court to send the dispute back to the Legislature where it fundamentally and properly belongs," Zoeller said.

A ruling in the underlying case Crawford v. Berry, originally litigated last year was being appealed by the State. Today the Supreme Court granted transfer, meaning the interlocutory appeal will be heard there, bypassing the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Zoeller noted that if the Marion County Superior Court's eventual ruling on the preliminary injunction motion is appealed by either side, then that appeal also could be heard in the Indiana Supreme Court at its discretion, and the two appeals could be consolidated.

NOTE:  At this link is the Indiana Supreme Court's Order today accepting jurisdiction of the State's interlocutory appeal of the Marion County Supreme Court's ruling of last December.



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