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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. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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