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County, court don't have to give back pay

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A former chief probation officer for the Clark Superior Court isn't entitled to back pay after she stepped down as chief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Susan Knoebel filed suit in Susan Knoebel v. Clark County Superior Court No. 1 and Clark County, Ind., No. 22A01-0808-CV-384, claiming the court and county owed her back pay once she stepped down from the chief probation officer position after a new judge took office in February 2007. She originally had her pay erroneously reduced to the minimum salary for a probation officer with just one year of experience; Knoebel had a master's degree and several years of experience. The Clark County Council adjusted her pay, relying on the 2007 Minimum Salary Schedule for Probation Officers adopted by the Judicial Conference of Indiana.

She filed suit in May 2007 seeking back pay, statutory damages, and attorney's fees for subtracting from her salary the additional amount allocated for chief probation officers after her demotion. Chief probation officers receive a salary increase of $7,500 in addition to the minimum salary based on years of experience and education.

Knoebel argued that the salary schedule states departments shall not reduce the salaries of probation officers who are paid above the minimum salary schedule. The Court of Appeals rejected her argument because the salary increase is in addition to the minimum salary, mandatory, and therefore increases the minimum salary for chief probation officers. When she received her salary for being the chief probation officer, she received the minimum salary for someone with her education and experience and never received a salary above the minimum salary schedule, wrote Judge Edward Najam. Because she was never paid above the minimum salary schedule, the court and county didn't err in reducing her salary once she was no longer the chief probation officer.

The Court of Appeals also ruled that Knoebel properly named the Superior Court and Clark County as parties in her action for back pay. Any order she obtained that didn't compel both the court to fix and the county to pay her alleged erroneous salary would provide an absence of relief to her, contrary to Indiana Trial Rule 19(A)(1), wrote Judge Najam.

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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