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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ind. Courts - More on "Fixing the Marion County Township Small Claims Courts" [Updated]

In this post from Jan. 19th, the ILB noted Chief Justice Dickson's call, in his State of the Judiciary message on Jan. 15th:

Fixing the Marion County Township Small Claims Courts. Our present system has been the subject of ridicule by the Wall Street Journal, and local newspaper and television reporters launched investigations into the system. A task force co-chaired by Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Senior Judge Betty Barteau held hearings and made a comprehensive report recommending changes urgently needed. Local leadership and changes in court rules, however, can only scratch the surface. Systemic change is imperative, and this requires legislative action.
The ILB noted that the Chief Justice's request appeared to be dead on arrival, as no interim legislative committee had studied the problem in either 2012 or 2013 and no legislation had been introduced.

It turns out a bill on the Marion County small claims courts has been introduced, SB 366, by Sen. Scott Schneider and Sen. R Michael Young. But the bill does not appear to address the myriad of issues raised by the Court's May 1, 2012 Task Force Report.

Indianapolis attorney/blogger Paul Ogden has a post today on SB 366, titled "Amendment Deletes Bill Language That Would Have Removed Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg From Supervising Marion County Small Claims Courts."

[Updated at 4:16] A reader writes:

I watched the webcast and Yes, they amended it to include the language he cites, but they didn't strike anything from the introduced bill.

Sen. Hume was nonplussed by that. He asked, so we're going to move the bill and then study it?

Yes, replied Sen. Steele.

ILB: The adopted committee report (which, maddeningly, one can't link to directly), supports the reader's conclusion. It adds a new SECTION 7 urging a study committee, but leaves in place the SECTION 2 changes - the elimination of the Circuit Court judge's oversight powers over the small claims courts.

Some might say this bill ties the hands of the only person who has been able to implement any reforms of the current system, the Marion County Circuit Court judge.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 30, 2014 02:32 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts