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Comments wanted on proposed changes to senior judge rules

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The Indiana Supreme Court wants to hear from the public and legal community about revising the state’s senior judge program, allowing certified former judges to serve in any court rather than specific jurisdictions.

Public comments are being accepted through Dec. 1, according to an announcement Friday from the state’s highest court. The revisions would amend Administrative Rule 5 regarding the certification and appointment of senior judges to allow them broader jurisdictional power anywhere in the state they might be needed.

The proposed changes come from the Indiana Judicial Conference’s Strategic Planning and Senior Judge Committees, as part of a broader discussion and ongoing effort to reform Indiana’s courts. The changes would follow legislative action this past year that streamlined trial courts’ jurisdiction and gave them the ability to unify their local court systems for more efficiency.

On Thursday, that court reform topic and a mention of these senior judge program changes came up at the interim Commission on Courts meeting. Lawmakers and court officials discussed the state judiciary’s strategic plan on consolidating Indiana’s court systems – described as “one of the most complex” in the U.S.

“This opens up the door for more judicial creativity in resolving cases and collaborating,” Marion Superior Judge Mark Stoner, co-chair of the Judicial Conference Strategic Planning Committee, said about the overall court reform.

These proposed revisions to the senior judge program would complement those ongoing efforts. Specifically, the proposed changes would permit a certified senior judge to serve in any court, clarify the senior judges’ jurisdiction, provide information to trial courts about senior judges’ expertise and preferences, develop a set of “best practices” for those serving, and increase the number of automatic senior judge days that each court has. The specific revisions can be found online.

More than two decades after the Indiana General Assembly created this senior judge program in 1989, Indiana currently has 92 former judges certified to serve in senior judge capacities. The most recent data from 2010 shows they served 3,592 days in courts throughout the state – equivalent to 20 full-time judges, according to the state’s weighted caseload analysis.

Comments on the proposed changes can be sent to RulesComments@courts.in.gov, or by mail to Tom Carusillo in the Indiana Supreme Court Division of State Court Administration, 30 S. Meridian St., Suite 500, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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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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