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Use of bench warrants still not certain

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Attorneys have settled a federal case that led to the Marion Superior Court scrapping its practice of issuing bench warrants for the arrest of people who'd failed to appear in civil cases, but a statewide investigation of whether state law allows judges to issue these warrants remains ongoing.

A settlement came March 30 in the case of Patrick Thompson v. Marion County Sheriff's Office, et al, 1:08-CV-00481, which arose from the man's August 2007 arrest. Thompson was detained for five days in the Marion County Jail after being arrested on a bench warrant for not appearing at a child support hearing about three years earlier. He told police he'd thought the child support case involving his then-17-year-old child was finished and closed.

The case tied in to a similar one that Indianapolis firm Waples & Hanger had filed in the Southern District of Indiana, and both prompted U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson to review the practice concerning bench warrants.

The Marion Superior Court's four-judge executive committee investigated the process and in January recalled about 4,100 bench warrants in civil cases, turning to a new policy that urges the use of body attachments requiring multiple notification steps. A body attachment requires that when people fail to show up for a hearing or ignore a court order, they must be given a second chance to attend and explain themselves. It also allows them to pay the amount due and be released immediately.

The second part of the settlement involves Indianapolis paying Thompson $67,5000, according to a news release from Waples & Hanger.

In February, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi asked Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to weigh in on the issue with an advisory opinion. No opinion has been issued, and a spokesman for the state office couldn't be reached to comment on the status of that.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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