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CASA program receives $2 million

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Child Advocates just got big boost in its efforts to help children. To help fund education and recruitment of volunteers who serve as guardian ad litems and child advocates, $2 million from the Marion Superior reserve fund will go to the efforts of Indianapolis-based Child Advocates, officials announced at a press conference today.

Since this summer, when the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled child advocate programs in Indiana should be funded by counties and not necessarily the state, guardian ad litem programs have been seeking ways to cover the costs for representing the community's most vulnerable residents, children in cases of abuse and neglect.

That case, on which the court ruled June 30, was a consolidated appeal of In the Matters of N.S. and J.M.: Indiana Department of Child Services v. T.S. and S.B., and C.L., and B.M., No. 32A05-0902-JV-78.

Child advocates are guaranteed for abused and neglected children by state statute, and the wait can be six to nine months before an advocate is assigned.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said while the funds are not meant to be a long-term solution, it is a step in the right direction even considering the difficult economic climate for the city and the state.

Currently, the backlog for foster children in Marion County waiting to be assigned an advocate is about 800, said Cindy Booth, executive director of Child Advocates. She added a significant backlog has existed since 2005, with a peak of 1,300.

She said other counties around the state with large backlogs are urban areas, such as South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Evansville.

Statewide, at the end of 2008 there were 4,000 outstanding cases, according to a report from Indiana GAL/CASA.

Child Advocates also needs an additional 200 volunteers to help shorten the backlog, Booth said. Having trained lawyers and other legal professionals at downtown Indianapolis law firms in the past, they are in the process of seeking a law firm to host training sessions this spring, she said.

Child Advocates has 10 30-hour trainings beginning in January, she said. Schedules for those trainings are posted on the organization's Web site.

Marion Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores said the work of child advocates is invaluable to the courts, as their research about the children provides information that the courts couldn't otherwise access.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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