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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ind. Courts - Gary-based child support court move to Crown Point reignites controversy

Bill Dolan's NWI Times story on Jan. 29th reported:

CROWN POINT | The Lake Juvenile Court judge is moving her Gary-based child support court to Crown Point next week and reigniting a debate about the benefits of consolidating local government versus the cost of removing government facilities from the county's urban core.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, complained Tuesday the transfer will inconvenience thousands of north county residents who now will have to travel 20 additional miles to use it.

"That is very unfair," Allen said.

He represents Gary on the Lake County Board of Commissioners, which oversees the main county government complex in Crown Point and smaller satellite courthouses in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura said Tuesday that centralizing the court makes its operations more user-friendly for her staff and presents no difficulty for the public, who easily access the many other county courtrooms already in Crown Point.

The court in question will close its Gary doors Friday [Feb. 1st] and will resume hearings only in Crown Point. * * *

Its transfer comes a decade after Bonaventura moved the bulk of her staff out of the Justice Robert D. Rucker county courthouse at Fourth Avenue and Broadway in Gary, complaining that building was in disrepair.

Gary and county officials so resisted that move, Bonaventura had to win a mandate forcing them to finance her $23 million Juvenile Justice Complex near 93rd Avenue and Chase Street, which opened in 2002.

Bonaventura kept her IV-D court in Gary, but a rise in child support cases required her to open a second IV-D court in Crown Point in 2010.

"As time has gone on, we have had a higher rate of appearance in the IV-D court in Crown Point than we do in the Gary court. But adding the second court has created confusion for some people, including lawyers, about which court they are supposed to be in, here or there," Bonaventura said.

Bonaventura said she will retain other staff in the Gary courthouse who conduct DNA testing for her court's paternity cases. She said no one is losing their jobs.

Today a story by NWI Times correspondent Lu Ann Franklin reporting:
CROWN POINT | The NAACP filed a petition Friday in the Lake Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order to prevent Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura from moving the Gary-based child support court to Crown Point.

“We are asking the court for an immediate temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and then a permanent injunction,” NAACP attorney Barbara Bolling said.

Plaintiffs in the petition include the NAACP, the cities of Gary and East Chicago along with two residents of Gary and Hammond who use the Gary-based court.

“We are alleging that to move the court would work a severe, if not irreparable, hardship on citizens from Gary, East Chicago, Hammond and Whiting because we do not have an extensive public transportation system that serves low-income or no-income residents,” Bolling said.

ILB: Judge Bonaventura was appointed Jan. 30th by Governor Pence to serve as the Director of the State Department of Child Services. The ILB has seen no information on when she will resign from the bench and assume her new role.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Saturday, February 02, 2013
Posted to Indiana Courts | Indiana Government

Courts - "Should a US Attorney take pride in helping to 'have produced the longest average prison sentences in the country'"?

I saw that heading for a post on The Sentencing Law Blog and idly clicked to find out -- who was this federal prosecutor?

It turns out it links to this story about U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of Indiana Joseph Hogsett, reported by Mark Wilson in the Evansville Courier & Press.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Saturday, February 02, 2013
Posted to Courts in general

Law - "Crop of New Law Schools Opens Amid a Lawyer Glut"

Fascinating Jan. 31st story in the Wall Street Journal ($$), reported by Jennifer Smith. A few quotes from the lengthy story:

Law-school applications are at their lowest in a decade, but that hasn't stopped a handful of colleges and universities across the nation from opening new law schools. * * *

Indiana Tech's new law school in Fort Wayne will be the state's fifth when it opens this fall. * * *

The statistics do give some educators pause. "It seems like the worst possible time to open a new law school," said Brian Z. Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and frequent law-school critic who last year published a book titled "Failing Law Schools."

André D.P. Cummings, associate dean for academic affairs at Indiana Tech's new law school, said plans to enroll 100 students in the fall class may have to be scaled back. "Are we where we'd like to be?" he said. "Not yet. The truth is that applications are down significantly across the country."

Mr. Tamanaha said schools may be finding it hard to derail plans set in motion before the current drop became apparent. * * *

"The notion that we need to open more law schools is absolutely crazy," said Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado who contributes to a blog called "Inside the Law School Scam." The current law-school model is unsustainable, given that "there are at least two graduates for every available legal job," he said, adding that educators launching new schools are "blind to the economic realities."

Reporter Smith has more on her WSJ story in the WSJ Law Blog. The post links to a much-redacted Indiana Tech feasibility study.

Kenneth Anderson of The Volokh Conspiracy uses the WSJ story as the basis of a broader commentary, including:

The upfront cost of law school plus borrowing costs seems completely out of synch with the returns to law practice. Worse, for all but the very top schools, the investment in law school appears less and less predictable. If you’re at the top, it can still be treated as an investment with a greater or lesser net return. If you’re very far out of the top schools, it looks like a bet – even before you can get to the net return on your lawyer job, you have to go through an up or down bet on whether you’re going to get employed in a “lawyer” job at all. I don’t see anyone predicting a cyclical return to the growth rates of the last couple of decades in lawyer employment or general upward movement in salaries; the question is whether it gradually recovers to bring us closer to the numbers of new lawyers produced each year in relation to the law jobs out there, so to close the gap. That would be the “good” recovery scenario, and even that one appears brutal on the business model of legal education and many of the students in the system. * * *

Meanwhile, talk is turning to layoffs and buyouts at bottom ranked law schools. Vermont Law School, the Boston Globe notes, has turned to both. No faculty were involved, but Bill Henderson is quoted in the Times story on what happens when lack of tuition-paying bodies meets law school expenses:

“In the ’80s and ’90s, a liberal arts graduate who didn’t know what to do went to law school,” Professor Henderson of Indiana said. “Now you get $120,000 in debt and a default plan of last resort whose value is just too speculative. Students are voting with their feet. There are going to be massive layoffs in law schools this fall. We won’t have the bodies we need to meet the payroll.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on Saturday, February 02, 2013
Posted to General Law Related