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Editorial: More of the same?

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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

They’re back, and like most citizens who watch with interest the goings on in the Indiana General Assembly, we’re not sure it’s altogether a good thing.

House Democrats ended their five-week walkout, and now we seem ready to get on with the business at hand: continuing the process by which Indiana can enshrine in its Constitution the discriminatory legislation some lawmakers are convinced without which heterosexual marriage will become endangered; and continuing the work toward passing an Arizona-style immigration law, without which some are certain our economy will collapse under the weight of all the welfare we apparently provide to people not in the country legally.

For a party that seems both at the state and national level to pride itself on a platform of small government and getting government out of everyone’s lives, Republicans certainly have a peculiar means of demonstrating these values.

Few things are more conservative than big business, and that some of Indiana’s largest employers have testified that our proposed same-sex marriage prohibition amendment and our determination to become the next Arizona regarding immigration will actually harm our business interests seems no deterrent to legislators who would advocate for such discriminatory practices.

Given that this is the kind of behavior we’ve become accustomed to expect from our legislators, no matter the political stripe, we must say that the bar is set remarkably low regarding what we expect from the last weeks of the legislative session.

We could be moving closer to completing the work of the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee with the case management system that has been implemented in 81 courts of 26 counties statewide. JTAC advocated for legislation that would have tacked on a modest fee increase to certain court filings to fund the project through its completion; the fee would have decreased upon the project’s completion. Instead, legislators delivered a funding cut.

We understand the argument that some have against our courts being in this business and that some would rather have seen private enterprise deliver this service. Restricting funding for a project that is about a third of the way completed seems like a tremendous waste of public funding.

Judicial raises are under threat again, after years of being non-existent. A law was passed in 2005 that tied judges’ pay raises to that of other state workers. But language is now on the table that would circumvent the change.

That such a move could undo all of the effort that went into finally securing a means for these judicial officers to be treated the same way all other public employees are treated is despicable and shows a contempt for our legal system. Either the state can afford to give all public employees a pay raise in the next budget or it cannot; all should be treated the same way.

Most bar association leaders who watch the Legislature say they expect no mischief in the waning days of the session.

We’d like to be able to express that sort of optimism.•

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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