ILNews

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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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