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Dickson makes pitch for Odyssey funding

January 23, 2013

Procuring money to expand the Odyssey case management system is “one of our most urgent priorities,” Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson told the General Assembly on Wednesday in his first State of the Judiciary address.

“The court intends to do everything we can to bring our Odyssey system as soon as possible to every county that wants it,” Dickson told a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate. “But this requires more resources. The court really needs help from the General Assembly this session to upgrade the necessary filing fee revenue stream.”

About 40 percent of Indiana’s caseload is managed by Odyssey, whose expansion has been funded with civil case filing fees. Until 2011, $7 per case went to the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee for that purpose. The Legislature cut that to less than $5 in 2011.

Dickson said juvenile justice reform also is a priority for the court, particularly the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative that he said has rolled out in eight counties and serves 34 percent of the state’s at-risk youth.

“This is a proven model that really works to improve community safety, to get more kids on the right track, to reduce school dropout rates, to reduce juvenile detention and to lower incarceration rates,” Dickson said.

Dickson also made a plea for attorneys to serve Hoosiers of limited means. “We want to encourage and empower Indiana lawyers to more fully realize the vision of their oaths and the Code of Professional Responsibility which requires that they serve ‘the cause of the defenseless, the oppressed, or those who cannot afford adequate legal assistance.’”

Dickson noted the “massive change” for the court, in which he succeeded retired Chief Justice Randall Shepard, and the appointments of justices Steven David, Mark Massa and Loretta Rush in the past two-plus years.

“We intend that the ‘new’ court will be a continuance, and even an enhancement, of the things admired in the ‘old’ one,” Dickson said.

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