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Magistrate, expungement bills pass committee

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Legislation updating Indiana’s expungement law – including language specifying where a petition for expungement must be filed – is now eligible for consideration by the full House. The expungment bill is one of several that moved out of committee Thursday.

House Bill 1155 was prepared by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee. It, among other things, grants a defense attorney and a probation department access to expunged records if authorized by court order. The legislation also clears up how to expunge an arrest. Under current law, there are two inconsistent procedures for expunging arrest records. The bill also prohibits a person from waiving the right to expungement as part of a plea agreement. Amendments to the law were approved by the Courts and Criminal Code Committee.

That committee also approved HB 1145, which allows the judge of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court to appoint a second full-time magistrate. The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the Commission on Courts.

Several pieces of legislation moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, including:

•    Senate Bill 27, which prohibits granting an adoption while certain appeals are pending. The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the Commission on Courts.

•    SB 56, which requires claims for payment from the Medical Malpractice Patient's Compensation Fund to be computed and paid every three months instead of every six months.  

•    SB 160, which provides that a new court with one or more new judges may not be established, and one or more new judges may not be added to an existing court, unless the establishment of the new court and the addition of the new judges to an existing court are authorized by state law.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee was assigned legislation this week regarding the St. Joseph Superior Court. HB 1298 changes the makeup of the St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission and Commission on Judicial Qualifications by eliminating one of the three elected attorney members and all three of the appointed nonattorney members. Instead, the commission would consist of the judge of the St. Joseph Circuit Court, the judge of the St. Joseph Probate Court, the board president of the St. Joseph County commissioners, St. Joseph County sheriff, the mayor of South Bend, and the mayor of Mishawaka.

The bill also requires St. Joseph Superior judges to retire when they turn 75 years of age. It allows a judge of the court serving on June 30, 2014, who is 75 years of age, or a judge who will become 75 years of age before his or her  term expires, to continue to serve as judge of the court for the remainder of the term. The bill also requires only 40 percent of voters to be against retention to reject a judge as opposed to the current requirement of a majority vote.
 

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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