Commission mulls retention, mandates

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A legislative study committee on courts delved into a variety of topics on Thursday afternoon, ranging from a new judicial retention Web site, judicial mandates, and the first new court request of the year.

During the two-hour meeting, the Commission on Courts got a glimpse of prototype Web pages being developed that are focused on judicial retention, a move to make the judiciary more transparent for the general public.

The Indiana Supreme Court's Division of State Court Administration will run the upcoming site and will likely make it a link on the main Web site of Indiana's judiciary in coming months, according to the division's Chief Deputy Executive Director David Remondini.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judges Terry Crone and Cale Bradford told commission members that efforts have been under way for about a year to improve the accessibility for the public information already available in various places online.

"This is a consolidation of what's already publicly accessible, and is meant to be a one-stop shop," Judge Bradford said, as the judges displayed the prototype pages on a screen for members to see.

Judge Crone pointed out that these prototype pages are a platform to build on and expand, and that they can be changed in any way the commission or courts see fit to best get the information out to the public and legal community.

From the site, visitors will be able to get a lesson in how the courts operate, a history and rundown of Indiana's retention system, and be able to view biographies about any of the jurists up for retention. The court plans to work with Lexis in providing any articles pertaining to a particular judge, and plans to spend more than $4,000 to offer a search engine that links to particular opinions from a judge and allows the visitor to search those opinions by keyword. A list of webcast appellate arguments will also be available under that particular jurist's name.

Links also will be available for various organizations, such as newspapers, blogs, and specialty bars. The Indiana State Bar Association's annual survey of attorneys on retention judges also will be available, the judges and ISBA president Doug Church said.

Commission members commended the move, as did State Rep. Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville, who spoke at the meeting about his interest in seeing judicial transparency

During the meeting Thursday, commission members also:

- Discussed judicial mandates and Trial Rule 60.5, and potential changes in state law regarding mandates. This topic sparked discussion of court restructuring, such as the state taking over control of county courts or mandating that the Indiana Attorney General's Office represent any jurists in judicial mandate litigation, rather than allowing the judges to retain private counsel.

- Heard this year's first request for new courts from Johnson Circuit Judge Mark Loyd, who wants a new superior judge in 2012 and another in 2016. The county ranks 14th in the need for new judges based on 2007 weighted caseload measures; the last addition was its third superior court in 1997.

- Heard from Court of Appeals Chief Judge John Baker, who told commission members about the appellate court's progress in 2007: Five new staff positions were filled last year; the court saw 247 more fully briefed cases than the previous year, issued 359 more majority opinions than the year before; and the court had 295 cases not circulated by year's end, which falls below the national standard of 300 for optimal appellate court efficiency. This year, the court expects 100 percent clearance of an estimated 2,970 cases. Chief Judge Baker did not make a request for a new sixth judicial panel, even though the commission agenda listed the item. That need has been discussed but not officially requested during the past year.

The commission has not yet set a date for its third meeting.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.