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 think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.