ILNews

COA footnotes: more past delays found

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Examples are still surfacing about how files had been delayed in getting transmitted to the Indiana Court of Appeals, although the Appellate Clerk's office has been backlog-free for about a month and these instances only highlight what had happened in the past.

Two opinions in the past week show cases that were not transmitted from the clerk's office for eight months and almost two years, respectively. Both included footnotes explaining the situation, recent reforms, and advice to counsel about keeping tabs on case statutes.

"We have recently become aware of some difficulties in receiving the prompt transmission of fully-briefed appeals to our court," says a footnote in today's decision Karen R. Berry Williams v. State of Indiana, No. 73A01-0511-CR-513, and the March 20 Not for Publication ruling on Jerry A. Gore v. State of Indiana, No. 18A05-0610-CR-587.

Williams was fully briefed March 26, 2006, but not transferred to the appellate court until Feb. 18, 2008; Gore was briefed June 21, 2007, and transferred Feb. 26, 2008, the footnotes say. At least four opinions dating to late last year have cited similar issues.

The footnotes also mention Lake County Board of Elections and Registration, et al. v. Anthony Copeland, No. 45A04-0710-CV-560, issued on Feb. 27, 2008, and Gilbert v. State of Indiana, 874 N.E.2d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), released in October 2007.

Chief Judge John Baker, who authored both opinions and inserted the footnotes, told Indiana Lawyer earlier this week that he was proud of how the clerk's office had addressed and resolved the issues. Most credit should be given to Clerk Kevin Smith, the judge said, because he has been putting measures in place to solve the issues since the fall.

"The Clerk of the Court has assured us that a new system and periodic inventory review program have been implemented to minimize future delays," today's footnote in Williams says.

Dealing with a backlog that's been evident for months, Smith started making changes in late 2007 after becoming concerned with the ability to keep up with growing caseloads and intake workloads. The office implemented staff and organizational changes in January that involved hiring new employees, shuffling existing staff, and creating an extra morning shift to process paperwork more quickly. He reported in late February that his office had purged the backlog and no filing was more than 24 hours old from its arrival date, and everything is docketed within a day.

Chief Judge Baker said attorneys can check the clerk's online docket to confirm that the case has, in fact, been transmitted to the court after being fully briefed.

Smith also encourages attorneys to contact his office directly if they have any concerns or do not see a mailed submission posted on the online docket within five business days. He also suggests that appellate attorneys give his office a heads up about a time-sensitive motion or filing they plan to make, as well as not waiting until the last minute. The Appellate Clerk's office can be reached directly at (317) 232-1930 or by sending an e-mail via the Indiana Judiciary's Web site.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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