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Small Claims task force meetings begin Wednesday

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The newly created task force formed by the Indiana Supreme Court to look into the practices and procedures used in Marion County Small Claims courts will hold its first of three hearings Wednesday.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Senior Judge Betty Barteau – who both have experience with small claims cases – make up the task force. They will gather information by meeting with the judges and staff of the small claims courts and from public hearings. The goal is to get feedback from small claims litigants and attorneys.

The first meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Perry Township Small Claims Court, 4925 Shelby St., Indianapolis. Meetings will also be held Feb. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Pike Township Small Claims Court, 5665 Lafayette Rd., Suite B, Indianapolis; and at Marion Circuit Court at 6 p.m. on March 7 in the City-County Building.

The task force was created after allegations surfaced that large filers, such as property managers and collection companies, receive special treatment in the Marion County Small Claims courts, and that some parties “forum shop” by choosing to file in a particular small claims court with the thought that the defendant won’t be able to attend the hearing due to lack of reliable access to public transportation.

There have also been questions raised regarding the township trustees’ influence on court staff and operating budgets.

Once the task force has held the meetings and reviewed the practices and procedures, it will report to the Indiana Supreme Court Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure with any recommendations about adjustments that could be made. The Indiana Supreme Court has the final say as to what, if any, procedural rules need changed.

In response to allegations, Marion County Small Claims judges have formed a plan to post brochures in the courtrooms detailing litigants’ rights and responsibilities.

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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