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New Marion County Small Claims rules a ‘change in atmosphere’

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A new set of rules for Marion County’s nine township Small Claims courts will make the forums more transparent and put important court information online for the first time, according to the judge overseeing reform efforts.

Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg said the revised rules have been approved and will be posted on the state’s judicial website, www.courts.in.gov. The rules are in response to scrutiny based on accusations of bias in favor of large-volume filers and inconsistent practices among the courts.  

“I think that the most important thing, and I don’t know if it’s going to be easy to quantify, is there will be a change in the atmosphere of the Small Claims Courts,” Rosenberg said. “It’s going to make those courts more transparent.

“The more mundane change will be that you’ll see a great deal more uniformity,” he said.

The rules as proposed standardized hours, forms, filing fees and notice of the rights of litigants, particularly those representing themselves. The draft rules also required, among other things, that court staff wear identifiers, that all parties to a lawsuit have equal access to court case files, and that township judges not be allowed to practice in other township courts.

But the new rules go further based on comments received over the past month, Rosenberg said. Among the additional changes:

  • A website will be developed for all nine township courts. The portal will include the standard forms that will be required in Small Claims actions, and litigants will be able to use the website to check the status of cases in any of the township courts.
  • Landlords who comply with the Indiana security deposit statute and provide tenants an itemized statement of damages will no longer be required to go through an amendment procedure.
  • Litigants will be required to wait at least 30 days after a judgment to file proceedings supplemental.


The push for new rules was spurred by an advisory committee formed after Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Senior Judge Betty Barteau issued a report that recommended an overhaul in the way the courts were structured and reforms in the way they did business. The study and report followed a Wall Street Journal article citing practices such as “forum shopping” by debt collectors and other large-volume filers.

Rosenberg said the rules aim to address perceptions that courts didn’t always offer litigants level playing fields. “This is creating an atmosphere that will make the courts more evenhanded with the way they’re dealing with litigants,” he said.

The new rules will take effect March 1, Rosenberg said, and a deadline of July 1 has been set to create the new website for the township courts. Rosenberg said the web address has not yet been determined.

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  • Fantastic Changes
    These changes are much needed,and they should go a long way to restoring fairness and impartiality to the small claims courts. Thank you Judge Rosenberg for leading these changes.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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