Discrimination suit dismissed

Jessica Sasseen

A lawsuit filed by two Western students claiming they had been discriminated against by the Warren County Circuit Clerk was dismissed Friday.

Cera Long and Amber Schucker, sophomores from Evansville, Ind., sued Circuit Clerk Pat Goad after claiming they were denied Kentucky driver’s licenses because they are Western students.

Schucker and Long had requested a temporary injunction, which would force Goad to grant the women Kentucky drivers licenses.

Long said the women were advised by Judge Sam Potter to apply for Kentucky licenses after both were charged with driving under the influence.

Last April, Schucker was cited for driving under the influence at 15 miles over the speed limit and having a .118 blood alcohol level. Long was cited for DUI with a .234 blood alcohol level in a separate citation.

Long claims Potter said the penalty for DUI would be less severe if she had a Kentucky license instead of an Indiana one. Long said Potter told her a Kentucky license would only be suspended for 30 days while an Indiana license would be suspended for about 180 days.

Goad said the two women were not discriminated against for being Western students, they simply didn’t have the correct documentation to apply for a license.

“They couldn’t get a license with us according to Kentucky House Bill 188 which says you must show proof of residence in Warren County,” Goad said. “Under that, it gave us certain things we could require such as a deed or utility bill to prove residency, and they met none of those standards.”

Special Judge Kelly Mark Easton dismissed the case without prejudice — meaning the plaintiffs are not banned from raising this issue again.

“I think this is just an example of a public official doing her job,” he said. “I think it shows (Goad) did her job well and thoroughly.”

According to the law, there are several factors the Circuit Clerk can use to grant a license. Students of Kentucky universities are eligible for Kentucky licenses if they have proof of residency.

Assistant Attorney General Kevin Brown, Goad’s lawyer, said the women also did not properly appeal the license decision.

“Neither of the plaintiffs exhausted their administrative remedies. They chose to sue instead of appeal to the Transportation cabinet,” Brown said. “If your license gets denied or suspended, you can appeal.

“Kentucky law is clear. You must exhaust all of those (options) before going to the courts.”

Potter could not be reached for comment, but Goad said, to her knowledge, it’s not common practice for people to apply for Kentucky licenses to avoid stiff punishments.

“In the complaints that the ladies filed, they are acknowledging they are trying to circumvent the law in Kentucky,” Goad said. “They are trying to get a driver’s license so their conviction would be less than if they were convicted with an Indiana license.”

Long said she does not plan on taking further legal action. Schucker and Steve Thornton, the women’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.

“If I had used my Indiana license first, I’d already have it back. Instead, I’ve been going to court for almost a year,” Long said. “I just did it because the judge told me to.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]