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Friday, January 20, 2006

Ind. Courts - In reversal, Lake judges join "efficiency study"

"Judges join efficiency study: Earlier decision to opt out of Good Government Initiative is reversed" is the headline to this story by Bill Dolan in today's Munster (NW Indiana) Times. Some quotes:

CROWN POINT | Lake Circuit and Superior Court judges will participate this year in the Good Government Initiative, a study of local government efficiency.

Chief Superior Court Judge John R. Pera said this week that the 17 civil, criminal, county and juvenile division judges agreed Wednesday to let consultants from Maximus, of Reston, Va., and National Center for State Courts, of Williamsburg, Va., examine the speed and cost of the administration of justice.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to improve our court. We look at this as an opportunity to inspire public confidence in the judiciary," Pera said.

They join the rest of the county's elected officials who will come under the Good Government microscope beginning next month. Results of that study could be public this summer

A majority of the judges, who spend roughly 30 cents of every tax dollar, voted last November to stay out of the initiative, complaining it violated the independence of the judicial branch. * * *

The judges were under pressure from other elected county officials who complained the growth in the cost of local government in recent years was the creation of new courts and larger judicial staffs. * * *

Pera said one of the keys to getting complete judicial participation is the agreement to use the National Center for State Courts in the examination because of its expertise in judicial matters.

Pera said the study will examine if the courts are accessible enough to the public, considered effective by its own employees and disposes of cases in a timely manner.

It also will look at the cost to handle each case and whether judges call too many or too few residents as potential jurors for trials.

Pera said the study won't re-examine trial results or judicial rulings in individual cases and consultants won't have access to confidential information about persons appearing in juvenile, criminal or civil proceedings.

For background on the courts' position, see these ILB entries from 12/7/05 and 12/19/05.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 20, 2006 08:26 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts