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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. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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