Judge: More small claims reforms pursued

Dave Stafford
September 4, 2012
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More reforms that could address “forum shopping” in Marion County Small Claims courts will be undertaken this month, the judge presiding over a review of township court operations said.

Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference that also opened the 30-day public comment period for new rules for Marion County Small Claims courts. Proposed rules are expected to be posted Tuesday at and under the Circuit Court link, and comments may be made through Oct. 5. The new rules will be adopted, modified or rejected by Oct. 12. If adopted, the proposed rules will take effect Jan. 1.

Those proposed rules don’t address the practice of large filers concentrating in particular township courts, but Rosenberg said discussions on how to address forum shopping would begin Sept. 19 with the rules committee of the Indiana Supreme Court.

“I view this as kind of a coordinated effort with the Supreme Court,” he said.

Rosenberg said the rules would bring uniformity to the nine township courts, standardizing hours, forms, filing fees and notice of the rights of litigants, particularly those representing themselves. The rules also would require, among other things, that court staff wear identifiers, that all parties to a lawsuit have equal access to court case files, and that township judges not be allowed to practice in other township courts.

The rules were developed by an advisory committee formed after Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Senior Judge Betty Barteau issued a report that recommended an overhaul in the way the courts were structured and reforms in the way they did business. The study and report followed a Wall Street Journal article citing practices in the township courts.

Rosenberg said the proposed rules would go a long way toward improving the credibility of the small claims courts as a fair forum.

“It’s a good first step in the right direction,” said Christine Hayes Hickey of Rubin & Levin P.C., who served on the Small Claims Rules Advisory Committee.

Comments on the proposed rules may be emailed to with the subject line “Public comment on local rules.”



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.