Howard County magistrate, other judicial aid bills advance

A bill requesting an additional magistrate judge to handle an increasing number of cases filed in Howard County was approved by the full Senate on Monday. That bill now joins several other counties’ similar requests for judicial help making their way to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 1118, which passed with a 47-0 vote, provides the appointment of one full-time magistrate judge to jointly serve the Howard circuit and superior courts. The new judicial officer would alleviate pressures stemming from an influx of cases.

During an initial House Courts and Criminal Code Committee hearing earlier this year, Howard Superior 3 Judge Douglas Tate advocated for the help of an additional magistrate judge as necessary to improving judicial process in the Kokomo courthouse.

Howard County is ranked 10th of Indiana’s 92 counties in terms of severity of need, according to the most recent Weight Caseload Report.

Advocates for the additional magistrate judge testified that the extra judicial help would better assess the specific needs of each individual to appropriately place them, instead of automatically sending them to jail.

Already awaiting Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature is House Enrolled Act 1173, which would add a new superior court in Tippecanoe County, bringing the total to seven courts in the Lafayette courthouse.

Other legislation providing additional judicial resources for Clark, Marion and Vanderburgh counties are soon expected to reach Holcomb’s desk.

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