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Economy and waning tax revenue put strain on courts

IL Staff
June 19, 2012
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The Indiana University Public Policy Institute, a part of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, released an issue brief Tuesday saying that Indiana’s courts are doing more with less as a result of the nation’s economic downturn, reduced local funding and increased demand.
 
“This is an important example of how the economy and local-government budget restrictions affect public services and the public well-being,” said Public Policy Institute Executive in Residence and retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. “In this case, there is a direct impact on Hoosiers’ access to effective and timely justice.”

In addition to examining how budget cuts affect the delivery of judicial services, the brief, titled “Courts and the Economy,” addresses how courts’ financial challenges could have an impact on local and state economies. It also considers how other states are shifting more judicial funding from local governments to the state to increase the efficiencies, effectiveness and equity of judicial services.

Since 1994, Indiana case filings have increased 27 percent and the cost per filing increased from $78 to $106, according to the study. In 2010, Indiana state and local governments spent nearly $400 million to fund judicial operations, with 66 percent of that total coming from county and municipal governments that were hit hard by the recession of 2008 and by the state’s constitutional amendment capping property tax rates.

“To maintain fiscal discipline, Indiana’s courts were forced to lay off technology and support staff, to freeze salaries, and to reduce overall budget sizes,” the report noted.

The report pointed out that federal cuts forced Indiana Legal Services, which provides legal assistance to low-income Hoosiers, to reduce its budget by 17 percent from 2011 to 2012. In addition, the Marion County Law Library, which provided legal materials to individuals who represent themselves in civil cases, closed as a result of budget cuts.

“Indiana courts have withstood the worst of the 2008 recession, but a revenue-constrained environment in local government creates significant uncertainty for future years,” the report concludes. “The Indiana judiciary can be cautiously optimistic for its future and should use the lessons from other states on how best to improve court operations.”

The full report can be viewed online.

 

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  1. Uh oh, someone is really going to get their panti ... uh, um ... I mean get upset now: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/31/arkansas-passes-indiana-style-religious-freedom-bill

  2. Bryan, stop insulting the Swedes by comparing them to the American oligarchs. Otherwise your point is well taken.

  3. Sociologist of religion Peter Berger once said that the US is a “nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” He meant an irreligious elite ruling a religious people, as that Sweden is the world’s least religious country and India the most religious. The idea is that American social elites tend to be much less religious than just about everyone else in the country. If this is true, it helps explain the controversy raking Indiana over Hollywood, San Fran, NYC, academia and downtown Indy hot coals. Nevermind logic, nevermind it is just the 1993 fed bill did, forget the Founders, abandon of historic dedication to religious liberty. The Swedes rule. You cannot argue with elitists. They have the power, they will use the power, sit down and shut up or feel the power. I know firsthand, having been dealt blows from the elite's high and mighty hands often as a mere religious plebe.

  4. I need helping gaining custody of my 5 and 1 year old from my alcoholic girlfriend. This should be an easy case for any lawyer to win... I've just never had the courage to take her that far. She has a record of public intox and other things. She has no job and no where to live othe than with me. But after 5 years of trying to help her with her bad habit, she has put our kids in danger by driving after drinking with them... She got detained yesterday and the police chief released my kids to me from the police station. I live paycheck to paycheck and Im under alot of stress dealing with this situation. Can anyone please help?

  5. The more a state tries to force people to associate, who don't like each other and simply want to lead separate lives, the more that state invalidates itself....... This conflict has shown clearly that the advocates of "tolerance" are themselves intolerant, the advocates of "diversity" intend to inflict themselves on an unwilling majority by force if necessary, until that people complies and relents and allows itself to be made homogenous with the politically correct preferences of the diversity-lobbies. Let's clearly understand, this is force versus force and democracy has nothing to do with this. Democracy is a false god in the first place, even if it is a valid ideal for politics, but it is becoming ever more just an empty slogan that just suckers a bunch of cattle into paying their taxes and volunteering for stupid wars.

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