ILNews

Court filings lowest in 7 years, 2011 stats show

Dave Stafford
October 29, 2012
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The number of cases filed in Indiana courts in 2011 is the lowest since 2004, according to exhaustive data in the annual Judicial Service Report released Monday.

About 1.68 million new cases were filed in trial courts last year, and expenses for all courts likewise declined. Courts spent about $392.5 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, down slightly from the $393.3 million spent in the prior fiscal year.

“Other than the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, I can’t think of any other agency of state government that touches so many Hoosiers,” Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson said Monday at a news conference where the annual report “Honored to Serve” was released.

The 1,725-page report can be viewed online. The report and those from prior years also are available for review in the Indiana Supreme Court Law Library.

Dickson said the courts continue to be underfunded and judges’ workloads are still higher than they should be. He noted that only about 1 percent of the state budget funds courts, and the bulk of funding is picked up by local government.

Dickson said he intends to talk with lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session about the need to boost court funding, particularly for technology that he said would save taxpayers money and improve court efficiency. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said Dickson has suggested an increase in court filing fees to fund improvements in court technology.

A boost of funding might be needed because the data shows the courts collecting significantly less in filing fees, user fees and other revenue. During fiscal year 2010-2011, the figure was $211.8 million collected – a 9 percent decline from collections in the prior fiscal year that topped $232.8 million.

The number of cases rising through the appellate courts is down significantly, Dickson said. Last year the Supreme Court heard 84 cases compared to between 90 and 100 in typical years.

“Our numbers are down, the Court of Appeals numbers are down,” Dickson said. “We’re sort of scratching our heads” trying to determine why.

The data doesn’t always provide answers to the decreases in cases, he said. The information does not, for instance, indicate the number of potential filings that were averted by alternate dispute resolution. On the appellate level, it doesn’t consider cases that higher courts believe the trial court got right, or a potential decline in the number of appeals because of the cost.

Examples of data in the 2011 report highlighted by court staff include:

  • Indiana courts have seen an 11 percent decrease in the number of cases filed since 2002.
  • 193 murder cases were filed in 2011, a 31 percent decrease since 2002.
  • 1,298 civil and criminal jury trials were held statewide –  approximately one for every 1,300 cases filed.
  • About one in five cases involved a pro se litigant.
  • There were 30,272 mortgage foreclosure filings, a 31 percent decline from 2007
  • The 10,665 Child In Need of Services cases is down 12 percent from 2010
  • An interpreter was used in 13,992 cases.
     
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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