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.”


  • 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. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.