ILNews

Commission votes on court-related recommendations to lawmakers

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A handful of Hoosier counties got a nod from a legislative study commission for new courts and judicial resources this week, and those recommendations will now go to lawmakers for consideration in the next General Assembly session.

The Commission on Courts met Monday to discuss and vote on several measures that include new courts or judicial officers, but Marion County and the Indiana Court of Appeals are not on the list of recommendations.

The commission did not bring up or vote on a previous request from the Indiana Court of Appeals for a three new appellate judges for a sixth district, and they also noted a request was withdrawn from Marion County to convert 20 commissioners to magistrates.

However, commission members voted to add a second Circuit judge in Franklin County and abolish that court's magistrate position; convert two Madison County Court judges into the fourth and fifth Superior judges; add a second judge to Miami Superior Court; create two new general magistrate positions for St. Joseph Probate Court to replace the juvenile magistrates there; to create a new magistrate position for the Dearborn-Ohio Circuit Court; and to abolish the Jefferson-Switzerland Circuit Court with Jefferson County retaining the current joint Circuit judge.

Each one of those received a unanimous vote, along with the two other topics that warranted a vote from the commission.

One of the recommendations would allow for magistrates statewide to enter final orders or judgments in proceedings that involve small claims, protective orders, or cases that prevent domestic or family violence. Currently, only Allen and St. Joseph county magistrates have these powers, and judges there told the commission that the courts' growing caseloads in these areas means that they couldn't operate without the magistrates performing those functions.

The chairman read a statement from St Joseph Superior Judge John Marnocha that said the process has worked well and that, "It is particularly important to litigants that they have a final decision at the time it is made, rather than waiting for a judge to approve the recommendation of the magistrate. It has also alleviated judges from the time it takes to review the orders (which) in a high volume court is crucial."

Commission members voted unanimously to recommend the magistrate powers expansion to lawmakers.

The commission decided not to address or vote on changes regarding judicial mandates, instead opting to leave that responsibility to the Indiana Supreme Court to address as situations arise.

None of these votes put the changes in effect; all of the commission's recommendations will go to the General Assembly for consideration in their next legislative session.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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