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Indiana judiciary continues to lead by example

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Even though times are tough, the Indiana chief justice says the Hoosier judiciary remains strong and continues to be a leader that other states look to as an example.

Giving his 24th annual State of the Judiciary speech on Wednesday before a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard praised the state court system’s efforts during the past year that have materialized despite the economic climate and lack of resources for everyone.

Talking about how people across the country and state discuss how broken government is and how public leaders aren’t listening to constituents, the chief justice talked about how the legal community has responded and proven they can rise above the economic crisis.

“In short, Indiana’s judiciary is one that keeps its feet planted firmly on this territory, on Hoosier soil, while keeping its eyes on the horizon,” Chief Justice Shepard said, highlighting four areas where he observed the state courts thriving during 2010.

- Mortgage foreclosures: With foreclosure filings higher last year than in 2009 and the courts burdened with those cases, the chief justice highlighted how homeowners have the opportunity now for a settlement conference and that more than 40 percent of homeowners respond when a court sends out a separate settlement notice. The conferences are used in counties that have 60 percent of the foreclosures and Chief Justice Shepard said they’ll be implemented statewide by the end of this year, in addition to the best practices document the State Court Administration has recently published to help judges outline case management plans.

- Smarter sentencing: As the state legislature discusses how to revise sentencing so that high-risk offenders receive appropriate sentences and are incarcerated, the chief justice talked about how local corrections officials have already been tackling that issue. He discussed how a risk assessment tool recently became mandatory for every criminal and delinquency court statewide, and that 2,300 probation officers and judges and court staff have been trained to use it.

- Technology: Praising the continued implementation of the statewide Case Management System called Odyssey, the chief justice said the system is being used in 77 courts in 26 counties and at least 175 are on a waiting list to participate. The participation reflects use in a third of the state’s courts since the project began in late 2007, and he urged lawmakers to temporarily increase from $7 to $10 the automated record-keeping fee to help speed up the process. The chief justice also praised other technology avenues that have been put into place during the past year, including electronic notification systems tracking police citations, protective orders in domestic violence cases, and when someone is adjudicated mentally ill so those individuals can be kept from obtaining firearms.

- Jury instructions: The state unveiled new instructions last fall, taking much of the legalese out of courtroom instructions and replacing it with examples and language that non-attorneys can easily understand.

“The men and women of the Indiana courts tackle all these issues and more, both through long-range strategic planning and through immediate action,” Chief Justice Shepard said. “So, it’s with the men and women of Indiana’s courts, who’ve proven themselves able at diagnosing a defect or identifying an opportunity, recruiting talented people, and capable of seizing the moment on the basis of the best ideas available.”
 

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  • Stepping Out of Bounds
    â??Why would you overcharge the taxpayers of Indiana hundreds of millions of dollars just to make government bigger and less efficient?â?? â??Theyâ??ve forgotten itâ??s the taxpayer who pays for government.â?? Governor Mitch Daniels

    The Indiana Supreme Court could serve Hoosier taxpayers better if they would heed Governor Daniels wisdom especially in these economic times. While I appreciate and share the Indiana Supreme Courtâ??s attempts to link courts statewide and bring some uniformity to the courts, this has already been done by the commercial marketplace. So spending one-tenth of a BILLION of Hoosier taxpayersâ?? dollars for Odyssey and other software applications that replicate what already exists in the commercial marketplace at one-tenth the cost makes no economic sense. And once again, the Chief Justice announces to all that he wants Hoosier to pay 50% more for these redundant systems. Not only does the Supreme Court replicate software that already exists in the marketplace, they are also crossing what is the constitutional boundary of the County Clerk, law enforcement, prosecutor, probation and public defender. The Indiana Supreme Court is in the business of writing traffic citations (that are up nearly 50% since 2004), filing traffic tickets with the Clerk and they are doing the Clerk record keeping over the risky and costly internet. The e-CWS (electronic citation), Protective Order Registry and Mental Health Adjudication systems are wonderful systems but they should be the responsibility of the prosecutor and law enforcement. Hopefully it is time to stop government competing against the private sector and respect Constitutional boundaries. If so, the taxpaying marketplace will be able to create more Hoosier taxpaying jobs and Indiana will once again be open to free market competition that will save Hoosier taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.

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  1. Hello currently just withdrew from laporte county drug court and now I have lost the woman I love which also was in drugcourt and was put in jail without a,lawyer presentfor her own safety according to the judge and they told her she could have a hearing in two weeks and now going on 30days and still in jail no court date and her public defender talks like he,s bout to just sell her up the river.

  2. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  3. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  4. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  5. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

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