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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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