As judicial resources continue to be stretched thin across Hoosier courtrooms, the Indiana Senate has approved two measures that would provide relief for two Indiana counties.
The Senate on Tuesday passed Senate Bills 14 and 126, which would add a magistrate judge in Putnam County and a fourth superior court judge in Kosciusko County, respectively. The additional judges also received support from the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations committees.
The Interim Study Committee on Court and the Judiciary gave initial approval to the additional judicial officers in Putnam and Kosciusko counties — and to the addition of a magistrate in Jefferson and Scott counties – during its last meeting in October. Putnam Superior Judge Charles Bridges told the committee then that the magistrate judge would be tasked with handling more “routine” motions, freeing up him and Circuit Judge Matthew Headley to focus on more complex judicial issues.
Kosciusko Circuit Judge Michael Reed said his county had not received a new judicial officer since 1997. Indiana’s 2016 Weighted Caseload Report ranked Kosciusko County 14th in terms of need for additional resources, while Putnam County was ranked fifth.Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, told Senators on Tuesday that Kosciusko County has already built a new courtroom in anticipation of receiving a fourth Superior Court Judge. While Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, supported the measures to provide the counties with additional resources, he lamented the fact that Kosciusko County would get to elect its new judge, a process not available to his constituents due to Marion County’s use of a judicial selection committee.
Both Senate bills received unanimous support and are now headed to the House for further consideration.