Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Getting your day in court

Anderson Community Schools faced a lawsuit on its school uniform policy. The plaintiffs were parents acting as their own attorneys. As I wrote before and elsewhere, ACS' attorney moved this to federal court from Madison Circuit Court for a quick kill and it looks like his strategy was a good one. The Indiana Daily Lawyer reported here that the case was dead even though The Herald-Bulletin reported the plaintiffs/parents filed an amendment to save the case.

The parents did not seem to realize that they are federal court and not in small claims:

In the objection, the Bells state that as pro se litigants they are required to have their “day in court.”
We do not have a right to "a day in court" but only a right of access to the courts. Under federal law that right is one of those implied rights - like privacy. Trial rules operate to keep weak or wrong-headed claims from trial. Think of separating wheat from chaff and you have got the reason for procedural rules. Trial is reserved for those cases where there is no other choice - no weak legal claims, a genuine dispute of fact - other than trial.

Yesterday, United States District Court Judge Tinder dismissed the federal claims and sent the state law claims back to Madison Circuit Court. The Indiana Law Blog noted the decision here and provides a link to Judge Tinder's decision.