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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ind. Decisions - "Lake judge denies stay in right-to-work case, law is unconstitutional"

Updating this ILB post from July 24th, Dan Carden of the NWI Times reports this afternoon:

INDIANAPOLIS | Lake Circuit Judge George Paras has rejected Attorney General Greg Zoeller's request that Paras postpone his decision finding Indiana's right-to-work law unconstitutional until the Supreme Court rules in a similar case.

In a brief order issued Aug. 13, but only listed on the court's docket Wednesday, Paras denied Zoeller's motion for a stay pending appeal.

That outcome is not surprising since Paras, in his July 17 order, specifically declared his ruling — that the labor law is "null and void in its entirety" and the state is "permanently enjoined" from enforcing it — takes effect immediately. * * *

Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Republican attorney general, said Zoeller *** will ask the Indiana Supreme Court to issue a stay. * * *

Paras' right-to-work ruling hinges on the "particular services clause" of the Indiana Constitution that declares, "No person's particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation." * * *

In his strongly worded decision, the judge said by denying Steelworkers the ability to collect fair-share fees from nonunion members, it is clear the right-to-work law deprives the union of compensation for services it is required by federal law to provide to all employees in a bargaining unit.

"But for the RTW (right-to-work) statute, plaintiffs would still be able to be compensated for such services," Paras said.

"Moreover, the state of Indiana has taken a central role in the denial of just compensation to plaintiffs, as any violation of the RTW statute by them would bring about their criminal prosecution by the state of Indiana or administrative proceedings against them by the Indiana Department of Labor."

Paras continued, "The RTW statute eviscerates the basic right that a person be compensated for the good and valuable services that a person provides in commercial endeavors and is the type of law that the particular-services clause was intended to bar."

Lake Superior Judge John Sedia reached an identical conclusion last year in a challenge to the right-to-work law brought by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150.

The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in that case Sept. 4.

The Operating Engineers last week requested the Supreme Court consolidate the two cases. Steelworkers' attorney Jim Wieser, of Schererville, said he and his co-counsels are studying whether that is the best way to move forward.

"We're willing to explore all of the logical options here as to what can be done," Wieser said.

A key difference in the two cases is that Sedia's ruling came in response to Zoeller's motion to dismiss, and no evidence or trial record was established.

Paras' decision followed a request for summary judgment by the Steelworkers after written and oral arguments were made by both the union and the state, as well as outside groups interested in the case.

While it is generally uncommon for a judge to rule in a similar case to one that is pending before the Supreme Court, Paras said he suspects the high court will focus on procedural issues, and not constitutional questions, when it reviews Sedia's order striking down the right-to-work law.

As a result, Paras said it was appropriate to issue his decision, which is based on a complete trial record, that the right-to-work law is unconstitutional.

The NWI Times story links to all three documents:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 20, 2014 02:54 PM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions