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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. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  4. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

  5. Mr. Foltz: Your comment that the ACLU is "one of the most wicked and evil organizations in existence today" clearly shows you have no real understanding of what the ACLU does for Americans. The fact that the state is paying out so much in legal fees to the ACLU is clear evidence the ACLU is doing something right, defending all of us from laws that are unconstitutional. The ACLU is the single largest advocacy group for the US Constitution. Every single citizen of the United States owes some level of debt to the ACLU for defending our rights.

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