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Lake County fee bill moves forward

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The House Judiciary Committee met this morning to consider five bills that included assessing a $10 fee for Lake County court filings, which would be used to fund a consolidated judicial center.

Voting on the Lake County legislation, the committee voted 7-3 to send House Bill 1435 on to the full House for consideration. Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, proposed the bill, which would establish a fund aimed at financing, constructing, and equipping a Lake County judicial center in or near Crown Point. The fund for a consolidated judicial center comes on the heels of a 2007 study recommending many ways that local government could be more efficient.

If enacted, a $10 fee would be charged on any filing in Lake's Circuit or Superior courts, and in which a person is convicted of an offense, required to pay a pretrial diversion fee, or found to have committed an infraction or ordinance violation.

Lake Superior Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider wrote a letter supporting the bill, and Lake County Bar Association past president Gerald Bishop spoke in favor of the plan. He described this as a "bricks and mortar" bill that's a "no brainer" for the General Assembly, since it can help local officials self-fund a judicial center and become more efficient overall.

Bishop said attorneys must often travel to various courthouses in the county, frequently for hearings that may last only 15 minutes but aren't able to be done by telephone conference because the courts can't afford the equipment to make that option a reality, he said. As a result, the costs trickle down to clients.

With more than 100,000 cases filed annually in Lake County, this $10 fee could amount to $1 million for a new centralized judicial center, Bishop said.

Some lawmakers hesitated, voicing concerns about why this type of construction isn't being funded by a county action rather than a state law - and how county officials have historically not opted to hike taxes locally as others have done throughout Indiana to pay for court renovations or building projects.

Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, noted his concern about allowing this money to be used to renovate existing buildings, which could postpone a new project indefinitely. Bishop responded that prohibiting that would stall change, as a new judicial center is many years off.

Ultimately, the bill got enough support from committee members to move on.

Other bills that passed out of committee after discussion were: HB 1175 that sets up a structure for protecting victims' rights in juvenile criminal cases; HB 1062 would allow a court to waive the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations in murder cases; HB 1077 creates special tool liens; HB 1578 amends state statute on GPS monitoring and restraining orders.

The full House met this afternoon and had multiple court and legal system-related bills to consider, including a measure on second reading calling for the election - rather than merit-selection and retention - of St. Joseph Superior judges. Indiana Lawyer's Statehouse Report has a rundown of relevant legislation and you can also read more coverage in the Feb. 18-March 3, 2009, issue of IL.

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  1. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  2. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  3. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  4. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  5. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

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