Bartholomew County Courts lose in Federal Court

A Federal Judge has ruled against the Bartholomew County Court Services Department in a case that challenged the court’s policy on prohibiting certain employees from engaging in some political activities. Judge Richard Young of the Southern District granted a motion for preliminary injunction in the case of Allen v. Bartholomew County Court Services Dept., et al. The lawsuit was actually against the state, as court systems are considered a part of state government, not individual counties.

Brandon Allen, as a Court Services employee in Bartholomew County, was prohibited from engaging in “political activity” even though, while technically an employee of the state judiciary, he performed no judicial functions. Allen’s attorney, Bill Groth of the Indianapolis law firm, Fillenarth, Dennerline, Groth & Towe, LLP, argued that the policy was unconstitutionally vague and in violation of his client’s First Amendment rights to engage in political activities.

Groth explained that Judge Young’s opinion holds that the policy is unconstitutionally vague and over-broad. The Indiana Attorney’s General Office defended the policy, arguing that it was intended to carry out the prohibitions of certain judicial conduct.

Groth says that what happens next is not yet clear. He says that the state, which defended Bartholomew County Courts in the lawsuit, may decide to appeal the federal judge’s ruling. If not, Groth says that he would expect a proposed settlement. He adds that Allen remains employed as a Court Services employee.