Judge says legal issues in voucher case were clear before trial

Judge says legal issues in voucher case were clear before trial




Critics of District Judge Tim Kelley's recent voucher ruling are publicly speculating that he must have had his mind made up ahead of time, given that he issued a lengthy legal opinion Nov. 30 after only two days of testimony. But Kelley says there's a simple reason the 39-page opinion was issued so quickly: He had been working ahead. "They submitted their briefs months ago," he says. The decision hinged on a few basic legal issues that were clear well in advance, although the parties were given the opportunity to present testimony to see if there might be any factual issues that might influence the decision. "There weren't any," Kelley says. "So it's not as though it was magic that it got written overnight. I had it for two months." Kelley ruled that the funding mechanism the state is using to pay for the voucher program is unconstitutional; the state will appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Even attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who argued for the losing side, says he wasn't surprised by the quick decision. "We briefed the case extensively," he says, although he added: "I would have preferred it had been taken under advisement, and that our arguments at trial would have produced a different result." —David Jacobs



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