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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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  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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