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Court commission OKs new judicial officer requests

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The Commission on Courts held its final meeting on Thursday, voting in support of new judicial officers for a handful of Indiana counties and agreeing to send those recommendations on to state lawmakers for consideration.

Members of the interim legislative study committee discussed the state judiciary’s strategic plan on court reform that is gradually being implemented through court rule and legislative action, including new laws that were passed during the most recent Indiana General Assembly session allowing for jurisdictional consolidation and unification in local court systems. They also discussed probation officer salaries, but didn’t take any action on those items.

The committee voted in favor of new judicial officer requests that have come before the panel in years past: converting the county-paid Allen Circuit hearing officer to a state-paid magistrate, and a new magistrate in Bartholomew, Hamilton, and Johnson counties. All of those requests had been approved by the commission a year ago, but failed during the 2010-2011 legislative session because of money concerns.

The committee also supported two new magistrates for Hendricks Superior Court and adding a new judge in Owen County, though for the latter that new judge wouldn’t start until 2015 in order to avoid financial impact on the upcoming budget cycle.

Members also heard and discussed a request from Marion Circuit Court to convert one of the existing four paternity commissioners that are paid by the county to a state-paid magistrate. Commissioner Mark Renner presented the idea on behalf of Circuit Judge Lou Rosenberg, who reported that weighted caseload data shows the court is the busiest in the state and the conversion is needed so that one of the existing judicial officers can take on a supervisory role.

Renner said that the Marion Superior courts as well as other Circuit Courts statewide have the ability to appoint magistrates, but Marion Circuit does not. The conversion is also needed in order to address the perception issues that he said currently exists, with four equal commissioner positions.

This would essentially involve making one of those four commissioners a magistrate, so that they are paid by the state instead of the county. Renner said current commissioners earn $112,000 from the county and the estimated cost of a new magistrate would be $130,000 – meaning the state would be responsible for the difference of about $17,000.

The committee voted in support of the request, with only Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, objecting. Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said he saw the need for the new magistrate, while Randolph said he didn’t see what benefit the state would receive from paying for that magistrate – especially since the Circuit judge already has the ability to put one of the existing commissioners in charge without any change from the Legislature.

“You get the perception, and we get the debt,” he told Renner during the meeting.

The commission voted to approve the final report that will be sent to the General Assembly, subject to its completion by the committee’s staff attorney and subsequent review by members.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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