Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Ind. Courts - "New St. Joe court to hear domestic violence cases"
Madeline Buckley has a long story today in the South Bend Tribune that reports:
... Most similar pleas for protection are funneled through small claims court where they fall in the busiest dockets amid landlord-tenant disputes and minor debt collection issues. Others are assigned to the Superior and Circuit courts.ILB: As noted previously, like the Evansville paper, the SB Tribune will shortly become completely unavailable to nonsubscribers. The digital subscription will be $186.80/year.
Seeking a better way to handle what some officials say are the most sensitive of civil claims, the county has secured a federal domestic violence grant to create a court devoted to hearing protective order cases.
Judges, attorneys and advocates say such a court will offer improved and efficient services for victims and more care and attention to cases in which the violence can potentially escalate.
But in the longterm, the county will likely have to put up the money to keep the court running if it decides it is a necessary service.
St. Joseph Circuit Court Judge Michael Gotsch applied for and received a $40,000 federal grant to create the court after the idea sprung out of a 2011 meeting of law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, advocates and other community leaders. * * *
At the start, the protective order court will not be anchored in a physical courtroom with its own judge or magistrate, but it will be run through the Circuit Court with its own stenographer, who will also act as an administrative assistant and a part-time bailiff.
The administrative assistant will corral all protective order petitions filed with the clerk’s office and ensure they are assigned to the right court.
The grant funds the stenographer/assistant salary and part of the bailiff salary. An additional $16,900 contributed from the county funds the rest of the salary as well as office supplies, postage, training and equipment.
Gotsch received permission from the state to use county senior judge hours, so a rotation of the county’s senior judges will hear the protective order cases. That money comes from the state.
Blocks of time will be assigned each week in courtrooms in both the South Bend and Mishawaka courthouses for the senior judges to hear the cases. Eventually, Gotsch said, he hopes to petition the legislature to hire a magistrate to preside over the protective order court.
And as the county is currently building four new courtrooms, Gotsch said the protective order court could get its own space down the road if it continues to receive funding.
Gotsch said the court could tentatively start running in November. Gotsch will reapply for the grant each year when it expires, though he said the county probably will not receive the same amount each year.
“They sort of wean you off the grant,” Gotsch said, meaning the county will likely need to come up with more of the funds to run the court as the years progress.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 9, 2013 09:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts