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Settle boycott fines, chief justice urges

INDIANAPOLIS – Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson ended arguments Thursday on fines for boycotting legislators by encouraging both sides to settle the matter before judicial involvement is necessary.

"Courts are not a political institution," he said, noting the House Republicans and Democrats could set a national standard for bipartisan cooperation by getting together and resolving the case via compromise.

The case centers on fines issued by Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma to Democratic lawmakers in 2011 and 2012 who refused to come to the House chamber, which resulted in the lack of a quorum to do business.

The Democrats aren't contesting the ability of Bosma to levy the fines, but believe it was unlawful for State Auditor Tim Berry to unilaterally withhold the fines from expense pay. The amount in question is more than $100,000.

In a written response Thursday, Bosma appeared to dismiss any chance of a compromise or settlement.

“I look forward to the Supreme Court confirming the limitation of judicial authority over the legislative branch, and to getting the activities of the 2013 session underway," he said.

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