Justices make changes to appellate, trial, small claims, administrative rules

Changes have been made to a number of the state’s appellate, trial, small claims and administrative rules, including changes to rules governing the unavailability of judges and filing motions to correct errors.

The amendments to the administrative, trial and appellate rules went into effect July 15, while the small claims rules amendments will take effect Jan. 1, according to four orders signed by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, with all justices concurring.

Multiple changes were made to Indiana’s trial rules, including to Rule 63 governing the disability and unavailability of judges.

Any judge regularly sitting in the judicial circuit or assigned to a cause to fill in for an unavailable judge who originally sat over a particular case may perform any of the duties to be performed by the court. The justices removed the requirement in Rule 63 that they do so “after the verdict is returned or the findings or decision of the court is filed.”

Additionally, in Trial Rule 53.3, the justices struck a line stating that the time limitation for ruling on a motion to correct error established under Section (A) doesn’t apply where the party has failed to serve the judge personally.

The high court also amended Trial Rule 59(C) regarding services on judges, wiping out a requirement that a copy of the motion to correct error be served, when filed, upon the judge before whom the case is pending pursuant to Trial Rule 5.

Justices in the same rule replaced the word “shall” with “must” in the requirement to file a motion to correct error no later than 30 days after entry of final judgment is noted in the Chronological Case Summary.

Also, the court amended Rule 9.2(A)(2), regarding pleading and proof of written instruments, to hold that Subsection (2) doesn’t apply to mortgage foreclosures.

Indiana’s small claims rules also received multiple changes, among them being the inclusion of language in Rule 2(A) that says a plaintiff filing an action under the rules waives the excess of their claim over the jurisdictional maximum of the small claims court or docket where the case is decided. The plaintiff also may not later bring a separate action for the remainder of such claim.

In Rule 8(C)(2), the justices raised the limit to $6,000 for sole proprietorships or partnerships to be represented by the sole proprietor or partner, owner, counsel or a designated full-time employee in the presentation or defense of claims arising out the business. An employee cannot provide representation for a claim exceeding $6,000.

Likewise, the limit in Rule 8(C)(3) was raised to $6,000 and allowed for corporate entities, limited liability corporations, limited liability partnerships and trusts to be represented by counsel, an owner or an employee. Claims in those cases exceeding $6,000 must be defended or presented by counsel.

Justices also added that a notice of claim should contain a statement that before a designated employee or a trustee representing a trust may act on behalf of a party in a small claims case, they must file in each case the certificate of compliance and affidavit required by S.C. 8(C). A statement should also be included that a court may sanction a designated employee or trustee and the entity the employee or trustee represents for failure to comply with those rules or local rules of court.

If a party wants to be represented by a designated employee or trustee, whether or not an appearance is required, they must file a certificate of compliance and affidavit required by S.C. 8(C)(5).

A single amendment was made to Appellate Procedure Rule 28(C)(1)(a), dealing with the submission of electronic transcripts. The high court replaced Trial Rule 86(D)(1) with Trial Rule 87(B)(1) in the section governing submissions by e-filing.

A similar amendment was made to Administrative Rule 6(K), on the disposal of records, where the high court struck Trial Rule 86(F) and replaced it with Trial Rule 87(D) when referring to the conversion by a clerk or court of a conventionally filed document into an electronic record.

All rule amendments are available online. 

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