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Advisory opinion expresses concerns over certain judicial pay arrangements

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The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has released an advisory opinion addressing salary payments to judges and judicial officers that may be made contingent on the number of cases filed with the court. The opinion cautions against accepting compensation from sources that may lead to the appearance of influencing the court.

The two-page opinion posted online focuses on the judges who do not receive a fixed salary for their work – such as some small claims judges or city and town court judges. Their pay may vary depending on the number of cases filed or a token sum per traffic ticket filed with the court.

"Judges who are paid by some measure other than an annual fixed salary must carefully analyze both the source of the funding and the entity’s function within the court to avoid any appearance of conflict. Judges who are paid per case filed in their court, or who are paid by an organization that holds a frequent role in court proceedings (such as a police department or debt collection agency), are especially susceptible to allegations of conflict or bias. Such payments need not be based on the type or frequency of case dispositions in order to be problematic,” the opinion states.

The CJQ pointed to a 2011 policy paper from the Conference of State Court Administrators that asserted the proceeds from fees, costs and fines shouldn’t be earmarked for the direct benefit of a judge or court official who may have direct or indirect control over the cases filed or disposed. This could damage public perception regarding the impartiality of the court.

“The Commission echoes this concern and believes that these types of variable judicial pay arrangements are of particular concern in jurisdictions where litigants may choose which court they wish to file cases. The standard for appearance of impropriety is whether a reasonable person could perceive that the judge engaged in conduct reflecting adversely on the judge’s impartiality,” the commission writes. “One can make a reasonable inference that a judge is more likely to rule in favor of a litigant who brings extra ‘business’ to the court. Even if the judge’s rulings are entirely free from outside influence, the mere existence of such a system can cast a cloud upon the integrity of the judiciary.”

It urges judges and judicial officers to avoid compensation arrangements that are based on the number of cases filed or disposed of by the court.

 

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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