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. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.