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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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