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. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."