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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

education

Judge dismisses Ritz's lawsuit

Marion County Judge Louis Rosenberg threw out Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz’s lawsuit against the State Board of Education on Friday.

Ritz filed the lawsuit Oct. 22 after members of the State Board of Education sent a letter to President Pro Tempore of the Indiana Senate David Long, R-Fort Wayne,  and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, asking that the Legislative Services Agency assist in calculating and publishing 2012-13 A through F grades for Indiana schools.

Ritz argued they were in violation of Indiana’s Open Door Law for meeting without informing the public or her.

Judge Rosenberg upheld Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s motion to strike the appearance of Superintendent Ritz’s counsel and complaint in the Ritz v. Elsener lawsuit. According to Marion Circuit Court records, Rosenberg’s ruling does not discuss the merits of Ritz’s argument but the way it was filed.

The ruling is based on the fact that only the attorney general is allowed to represent Ritz in court.

According to Rosenberg’s ruling, this would mean Zoeller would have to represent both sides, which the court ruling determined could prompt ethical concerns under Rule 1.7 of the State Rules of Professional Conduct.

“The reason you don’t see one arm of state government’s executive branch sue another is because the statute and case law make it the Attorney General’s responsibility to represent state agencies in court and harmonize their conflicting legal positions, and the judicial branch was not meant to oversee internal conflicts within the executive branch,” Zoeller said in a statement.

Because Zoeller and his deputies are the only attorneys allowed on record, the lawsuit will be dismissed. It is possible that a new action could be filed under the attorney general. He could also advise the sides to reach an out-of-court settlement.

“Now that this question is behind us, we encourage everyone to work to resolve their disputes in a way that respects one another and the state we all serve,” Zoeller said.
Ritz said she was disappointed in the ruling and was concerned for Hoosiers who have had their lives affected by unelected boards.

“All commissions and boards use them, and action should always be taken in a public way, and I stand by that,” Ritz said.

Follow reporter Stephen Kroll on Twitter at @stephenkroll1.

 

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