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Justice touts Odyssey, counties seek addition judicial officers

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The Commission on Courts meeting Wednesday contained some familiar elements: Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan testified regarding Odyssey and two trial judges have once again asked for an additional judicial officer.

Justice Sullivan kicked off the meeting, giving commission members an update on the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee project, Odyssey, a case management system being implemented in counties. The justice touted the benefits of counties utilizing the voluntary CMS, and showed videos to enhance his message.

A commission member asked a question regarding data mining the information maintained by Odyssey, to which Justice Sullivan replied the information could be helpful to legislators to do their work, and that there are limitless opportunities for analysis of the data. He cited funding recently given to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute by the federal government to study the issue of racial profiling of traffic stops.

Justice Sullivan also explained how this year’s cut by the General Assembly to the automated record keeping fee, which funds Odyssey, will impact implementation of the system. The fee decreased from $7 to $5 on July 1. He said they’ve had to reduce staff size somewhat and are in the process of re-writing consulting contracts. The fee reduction will also slow down the rate at which Odyssey can be installed.

Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts, who is also a member of the Commission on Courts, testified on behalf of his county asking to replace an Allen Circuit Court hearing officer with a magistrate position. He said this is the third or fourth time he has come with the request. One of the reasons he cited for wanting to make John Kitch a magistrate is that he wants to be able to keep him as an employee.

Owen Circuit Judge Frank Nardi also came with request that he has made before the commission in the past – he seeks a new judge. Currently, Circuit Court consists of him and a part-time referee. He said he would like separate independent courts: that could be done with the creation of a Superior Court or another Circuit Court, or the referee could be made into a magistrate.

Hendricks Superior Judges Robert Freese and Stephenie LeMay-Luken requested the addition of up to two magistrates. Judge Freese cited the population growth in Hendricks County and how the county has one judge per 24,000 people. The state averages about 16,000 people per judge. Ideally, they’d like the new magistrate or magistrates to begin July 1, 2012 or Jan. 1, 2013.

The judges presented a letter signed by the five Superior Court judges supporting the request. Judge Freese noted that Circuit Judge Jeffrey Boles doesn’t believe there is a need for new magistrates.

Also at the meeting, Judge Nardi announced that he would not be running for re-election. He has been on the bench since 1983.

The commission set its next meeting for Sept. 15, which chairperson Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, noted would likely be their last meeting.

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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