Legislation impacting judiciary awaiting final approval

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Several bills that may alter the look of the Indiana judiciary await final approval during the waning days of the 2011 legislative session.

Senate Bill 463 removes the mandatory retirement age for trial court judges in Indiana. Current state statute calls for Superior court judges to be less than 70 years old when taking office or, in some cases, to retire by the age of 75. If SB 463 becomes law, statutory provisions requiring mandatory retirement from the bench for Superior court judges would be removed.

The bill also provides for the creation of a fourth Superior court in Johnson County. The judge presiding over this court would be elected during the November 2014 general election, with the court beginning operation in January 2015.

SB 463 gained approval of both the Senate and House of Representatives, and it has been returned to the Senate for concurrence with House amendments. The Senate dissented from the House amendments, so the legislation went in to conference committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1266 has also been approved by both legislative chambers, and it awaits concurrence by House members of amendments made in the Senate.

HB 1266 establishes unified Circuit courts in Clark, Madison, and Henry counties. Following the merger of the Circuit and Superior courts in those counties, the unified Circuit Court of Clark County would have four judges effective Jan. 1, 2012; the unified Circuit Court of Madison County would have six judges effective July 1, 2011; and the unified Circuit Court of Henry County would have three judges effective July 1, 2011.

The bill also makes changes to the method used to elect and retain Superior Court County Division judges in Lake County, moving all Superior judges in the county to the merit-selection process.

Current law provides that the four judges of the Lake Superior County Division are elected by voters every six years. HB 1266 provides that those judges be nominated by the Lake County Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by the governor. Judges would be subject every six years to a retention vote by the Lake County electorate, as are the other Civil and Criminal Superior judges in the county.

In addition, HB 1266 calls for all Circuit, Superior, and Probate courts to have: (1) original and concurrent jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases; (2) de novo appellate jurisdiction of appeals from city and town courts; and (3) in Marion County, de novo appellate jurisdiction of appeals from township small claims courts. It also prolongs the expiration date of the Indiana Commission on Courts to June 30, 2015.

While it appeared that the automated record-keeping fee that is used to fund Indiana’s statewide case management system was going to be cut this year rather than increased as initially requested in legislation supported by the state’s Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, a provision to keep the status quo has been inserted into the proposed state budget.

The proposed budget calls for the fee to remain at the current level of $7 for another two years, then decrease to $4 after June 30, 2013. Without legislative action this year, the fee would expire July 1. The proposed budget also calls for the public defense administration fee to be increased from $3 to $5 effective July 1.


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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.