State judicial leaders present budget proposals at first Ways and Means meeting

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Indiana’s top judicial leaders made their cases for additional funding in the next two years on Wednesday, with the biggest funding boost requested to support continued court technology initiatives.

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik and Tax Court Judge Martha Wentworth each brought their requests for the fiscal years 2018-19 biennial budget before the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday morning. Rush, who previously presented the Supreme Court’s proposed budget to the State Budget Committee last month, focused the majority of her budget request on a $3.3 million boost to the judiciary’s court technology fund, telling committee members that such an investment would pay off for the state in the long run.

There were three parts to Rush’s proposed court technology budget — e-filing, with a requested $7 million, the Odyssey case management system, with a requested $6.3 million, and the INcite online application system, with a requested $4.5 million for each of the next two fiscal years respectively.

 The chief justice told Ways and Means committee members that before the state began rolling out those initiatives over the past few years, the Indiana judiciary had been “behind the eight ball” in terms of technological advancements. But now, with 25 percent of all Indiana counties now utilizing an e-filing system and roughly 66 percent of all cases filed in Odyssey, the state court system is moving further into the 21st century, she said.

That transition to a technology-driven system is already showing benefits to the state and will continue to save state agencies both time and money, Rush said. For example, Indiana Department of Child Services Executive Director Mary Beth Bonaventura estimated that the transition to an entirely paperless system would save DCS — which operates with an annual budget of $983 million — $3 million to $4 million a year and would significantly cut down on the time children spend in the court and child welfare system, Rush said.  

In the last biennial budget, the Supreme Court was allocated $14.5 million in filing fees to put toward judicial technology initiatives. The filing fee is a reverting fund that is allocated twice a year, with half of the total funds coming down in June, Rush said. However, when the filing fees funding came in, it only came to $10.3 million for the first year and $12 million for the second year, leaving the judiciary with a budget shortfall, she said.

“It’s hard to run a business with two allocations, and we’re always in arrears with the filing fee,” the chief justice told the committee.

To remedy that issue, the Supreme Court requested an allocation of $17.8 million from the state’s general fund. However, the state, not the judiciary, would get to keep the filing fees, thus offsetting some of the cost of funding court technology.

Committee members asked few questions about Rush’s technology funding proposal, but Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, questioned the chief justice as to whether the technological transition had affected the public’s ability to view court decisions and other documents. Rush said as of now, citizens can still pay a fee to have the clerk’s office print off any documents they are interested in, but eventually an online public access system will be rolled out.

Aside from court technology, Rush’s biennial proposal focused on additional funding for various court access programs, such as the Court Appointed Special Advocates and guardian ad litem initiatives. As of now, those programs are experiencing a significant shortage of volunteers. But if an additional $1.3 million were dedicated to finding new volunteers, then DCS could start to do away with the practice of paying its own employees to serve with the CASA and GAL programs, thus maintaining and potentially reducing the department’s current budget, she said.

Rush’s full proposal can be read here.

Vaidik and Wentworth each requested smaller increases to their biennial budgets, with the majority of additional funds needed for both the Court of Appeals and Tax Court requested for the same reason.

During the last biennium, the Indiana General Assembly required the lower appellate courts to pay out raises from a Personal Services Contingency Fund rather than standard personnel funds. For the Court of Appeals, that total came to $862,000, and for the Tax Court, the total came to $26,246. Vaidik and Wentworth requested those amounts, respectively, in order to “break even” on those funds.

Additionally, Vaidik requested additional funds to help cover the cost of the Court of Appeals’ lease in the downtown PNC Tower, where part of the appellate court office is located. The cost of that 10-year lease increases $7,100 each year, Vaidik said, and is currently $418,000. Although the appellate court has been able to cover that increase in years past, the existing budget can no longer sustain it, she said.

Aside from the “true-up” of the Personal Services Contingency Fund, Wentworth’s budget request was the same, she said, and included a request for $734,839 for personal services and $151,400 for fixed expenses.


  • Committee
    Oh yes, we obviously yet need a committee to address the lopsided gender leadership problem in this judiciary. Don't forget to pour more funding into that indulgence.

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  1. OK, take notice. Those wondering just how corrupt the Indiana system is can see the picture in this post. Attorney Donald James did not criticize any judges, he merely, it would seem, caused some clients to file against him and then ignored his own defense. James thus disrespected the system via ignoring all and was also ordered to reimburse the commission $525.88 for the costs of prosecuting the first case against him. Yes, nearly $526 for all the costs, the state having proved it all. Ouch, right? Now consider whistleblower and constitutionalist and citizen journalist Paul Ogden who criticized a judge, defended himself in such a professional fashion as to have half the case against him thrown out by the ISC and was then handed a career ending $10,000 bill as "half the costs" of the state crucifying him. THE TAKEAWAY MESSAGE for any who have ears to hear ... resist Star Chamber and pay with your career ... welcome to the Indiana system of (cough) justice.

  2. GMA Ranger, I, too, was warned against posting on how the Ind govt was attempting to destroy me professionally, and visit great costs and even destitution upon my family through their processing. No doubt the discussion in Indy today is likely how to ban me from this site (I expect I soon will be), just as they have banned me from emailing them at the BLE and Office of Bar Admission and ADA coordinator -- or, if that fails, whether they can file a complaint against my Kansas or SCOTUS law license for telling just how they operate and offering all of my files over the past decade to any of good will. The elitist insiders running the Hoosier social control mechanisms realize that knowledge and a unified response will be the end of their unjust reign. They fear exposure and accountability. I was banned for life from the Indiana bar for questioning government processing, that is, for being a whistleblower. Hoosier whistleblowers suffer much. I have no doubt, Gma Ranger, of what you report. They fear us, but realize as long as they keep us in fear of them, they can control us. Kinda like the kids' show Ants. Tyrannical governments the world over are being shaken by empowered citizens. Hoosiers dealing with The Capitol are often dealing with tyranny. Time to rise up: Back to the Founders! MAGA!

  3. Science is showing us the root of addiction is the lack of connection (with people). Criminalizing people who are lonely is a gross misinterpretation of what data is revealing and the approach we must take to combat mental health. Harsher crimes from drug dealers? where there is a demand there is a market, so make it legal and encourage these citizens to be functioning members of a society with competitive market opportunities. Legalize are "drugs" and quit wasting tax payer dollars on frivolous incarceration. The system is destroying lives and doing it in the name of privatized profits. To demonize loneliness and destroy lives in the land of opportunity is not freedom.

  4. Good luck, but as I have documented in three Hail Mary's to the SCOTUS, two applications (2007 & 2013),a civil rights suit and my own kicked-to-the-curb prayer for mandamus. all supported in detailed affidavits with full legal briefing (never considered), the ISC knows that the BLE operates "above the law" (i.e. unconstitutionally) and does not give a damn. In fact, that is how it was designed to control the lawyers. IU Law Prof. Patrick Baude blew the whistle while he was Ind Bar Examiner President back in 1993, even he was shut down. It is a masonic system that blackballs those whom the elite disdain. Here is the basic thrust: When I asked why I was initially denied, the court's foremost jester wrote back that the ten examiners all voted, and I did not gain the needed votes for approval (whatever that is, probably ten) and thus I was not in .. nothing written, no explanation, just go away or appeal ... and if you appeal and disagree with their system .. proof positive you lack character and fitness. It is both arbitrary and capricious by its very design. The Hoosier legal elites are monarchical minded, and rejected me for life for ostensibly failing to sufficiently respect man's law (due to my stated regard for God's law -- which they questioned me on, after remanding me for a psych eval for holding such Higher Law beliefs) while breaking their own rules, breaking federal statutory law, and violating federal and state constitutions and ancient due process standards .. all well documented as they "processed me" over many years.... yes years ... they have few standards that they will not bulldoze to get to the end desired. And the ISC knows this, and they keep it in play. So sad, And the fed courts refuse to do anything, and so the blackballing show goes on ... it is the Indy way. My final experience here: I will open my files to anyone interested in seeing justice dawn over Indy. My cases are an open book, just ask.

  5. Looks like 2017 will be another notable year for these cases. I have a Grandson involved in a CHINS case that should never have been. He and the whole family are being held hostage by CPS and the 'current mood' of the CPS caseworker. If the parents disagree with a decision, they are penalized. I, along with other were posting on Jasper County Online News, but all were quickly warned to remove posts. I totally understand that some children need these services, but in this case, it was mistakes, covered by coorcement of father to sign papers, lies and cover-ups. The most astonishing thing was within 2 weeks of this child being placed with CPS, a private adoption agency was asking questions regarding child's family in the area. I believe a photo that was taken by CPS manager at the very onset during the CHINS co-ocerment and the intent was to make money. I have even been warned not to post or speak to anyone regarding this case. Parents have completed all requirements, met foster parents, get visitation 2 days a week, and still the next court date is all the way out till May 1, which gives them(CPS) plenty of to time make further demands (which I expect) No trust of these 'seasoned' case managers, as I have already learned too much about their dirty little tricks. If they discover that I have posted here, I expect they will not be happy and penalized parents again. Still a Hostage.