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Court reform plan starts with enhanced education proposal

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As part of a larger court reform plan, the governing board of the Judicial Conference of Indiana wants more required education for judges at the state appellate and trial levels.

The board voted unanimously for enhanced educational requirements and has forwarded a proposed rule change to the Indiana Supreme Court for consideration. No timetable exists for when justices must decide that.

Currently, Indiana judges must obtain at least 36 hours for every three-year reporting period, and they must have at least six hours of Continuing Legal Education each year as well as no more than 12 hours of non-legal subject matter courses. Three ethics hours also are required every three years.

Under the new rule proposal, the Judicial Education Committee recommends that judges would need at least 54 hours every three years, or 15 hours annually, and no more than 18 hours could be in non-legal subjects. An extra two hours of ethics learning would be required every three-year period, too.

This would be mandatory for any state level judicial officer, which includes appellate judges and justices, trial judges, magistrates, and full-time commissioners and referees. Requirements for senior judges, part-time court officers, and city and town court judges wouldn’t change.

The point is to ensure that jurists have more educational requirements than the practicing attorneys who come before them. Court leaders say that is mostly the case now, but this would make it mandatory.

This educational rule enhancement is part of the state judiciary’s broad court reform plan unveiled in September, which sets out long-term plans and priorities for improving the Indiana court system through improved education, streamlining and reorganizing court operations and structures, uniform state funding, and an examination of statewide judicial selection.

“Implementation of the strategic plan is moving forward,” said Marion Superior Judge Mark Stoner, who co-chairs the Strategic Planning Committee. “The first step is to require enhanced education for judges which will ensure they are given the tools to improve their skills and knowledge of the law. Better educated judges will improve the quality of justice for citizens.”
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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