ILNews

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 www.in.gov/judiciary/supreme/ and www.indy.gov 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 aida.ramirez@indy.gov with the subject line “Public comment on local rules.”




 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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