Jefferson courts relocate, salvage documents

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2009
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The Jefferson Superior and Circuit courts have relocated in Madison and are working to get their offices up and running to handle emergency matters. The courts were forced out of the Jefferson County Courthouse after a fire May 20.

Circuit Court has moved to the Venture Out business center at 875 Industrial Dr. on the hill in Madison. Circuit Judge Ted Todd said the court is still trying to set up and is using folding tables and chairs until they can order furniture.

Superior Court is now at the former law offices of Superior Judge Alison Frazier at 217 E. Second St. Superior Court is using borrowed items until the court can get new equipment ordered; phone lines should be connected in the next few days, said Superior Court reporter Narda Kidwell.

Both courts are trying to salvage as many documents as they can. The fire didn't destroy the building below the roof and the dome that houses the court clock and bell, but part of the roof caved in over Circuit Court, which was located on the third floor, Judge Todd said. Superior Court didn't suffer as much damage because it was located on the second floor.

A company has taken the accessible documents from the courts and clerk's office, which was on the second floor, and will freeze dry the wet documents to restore them. Judge Todd said there are a lot of records still in the Circuit Court's offices. Because of the roof collapse, he said they can't go in and recover the files and records on desks and in filing cabinets until the bell tower is removed.

"I was up there for a brief time, as was a court reporter," Judge Todd said. "We know visually what it's like. The files in the filing cabinets should be able to be recaptured once we can get up there."

They hope to get those records out this week, but it depends on how much progress has been done in removing the dome.

The courthouse backup system for computers and scanned documents is up to date through the day of the fire, Judge Todd said, and the courts should be able to reconstruct any missing documents thanks to Chronological Case Summaries and files from attorneys.

Because the courts are under the emergency-relief order granted by the Indiana Supreme Court May 21, they are handling only emergency matters at the county jail


 Jefferson County Courthouse. Photo by Rebecca Collier because the courts need to get equipment for recording and establish a more systematic way for new matters to be filed, Judge Todd said. Judge Frazier and Judge Todd are splitting the emergency custody, CHINS, juvenile, criminal, and protective-order matters.

Both Judge Todd and Kidwell noted how the legal community and general community has helped by donating law books, legal pads, and office equipment for use until the courts can order their own.

"Everyone's been great. There's a lot of support and everybody's helped us make sure we have the things we need," the judge said.

There's no time frame for how long the courts will be in their temporary locations, but Judge Todd hopes to be set up to handle other hearings before the noon June 5 deadline in the emergency-relief order.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues