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Clark judges sue over budget cuts

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Clark Circuit and Superior judges have filed lawsuits against county officials over proposed budget cuts, restarting the kind of litigation that four years ago led to the Indiana Supreme Court’s urging that trial judges work with and share in the financial decision-making process rather than resorting to judicial mandates.

Two lawsuits filed in April and May allege the county council has cut the budget in ways that leave too little money for the courts to do their constitutional jobs. If successful, the lawsuits could require the county to borrow up to $1.2 million and enact a special tax increase to pay off that loan in order to fund what the judges want. In March, the council cut the Superior and Circuit budgets by 50 percent because the state wouldn’t allow a property tax increase.

Circuit Judge Daniel Moore filed a suit in April that claims the council’s decision was “arbitrary and unreasonable,” and that the decision failed to meet “legally required mandates and standards for policy-based decision-making.”

Superior Judges Vicki Carmichael, Jerry Jacobi, and Joseph Weber filed a suit this month that says it would be impossible for their courts to function properly if the money isn’t restored.

The pair of suits follows the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling in 2007 on two mandate cases including Clark County Council, et al. v. Daniel F. Donahue et al., 873 N.E.2d 1038, 1039, in which the judges filed suit after the county decided to use all of the annual probation fees to pay salaries and other expenditures to avoid employee layoffs.

That case focused on the use of probation fees, and the justices remanded the case with directions that the Clark County Council allocate or return some of that money to the county adult probation services fund. In conjunction with another mandate action from Montgomery County, the state justices tried to strike a middle ground that encouraged a compromise between county judges and officials when dealing with fiscal issues. The court hinted that an unbalanced scale could hinder the overall justice system or damage independence, but it didn’t specifically strike down the ability to use judicial mandates under Trial Rule 60.5.

Rehearing: "Court rules on judicial mandates, probation-fee use" IL Oct. 3 - 16, 2007
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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