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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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