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Monday, April 28, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Clark judges carry heaviest caseload in Indiana"

That is the headline to this April 21st story in the Louisville Courier Journal, reported by Charlie White. Some quotes:

Clark County’s circuit courts were the most overloaded with new cases of any Hoosier county last year, with judges handling more than double the state standard, according to Indiana’s latest caseload study.

The average Indiana county’s courts had about 120 percent of the standard caseload last year, according to the study, which was released this month. But Clark had 232 percent of the caseload.

The study also found the state would need to fund about 89 new judicial officers in various counties to meet the standard caseloads, including hiring about seven more judges in Clark.

Other southern and southwestern Indiana counties were among the top 10 in highest caseloads, including Scott (second, 171 percent), Jennings (third, 161 percent), Vanderburgh (fourth, 157 percent), Spencer (seventh, 151 percent) and Floyd (eighth, 151 percent). * * *

In January 2012, Clark County’s three superior courts were merged with its one circuit court, creating a department with four judges and two magistrates in a move aimed at helping balance the overall caseload.

There are also municipal courts in Jeffersonville and Clarksville that handled about 2,200 of the 3,600 misdemeanors in 2013, according to county records.

Similar courts in Sellersburg and Charlestown previously were eliminated.

Clark County records show its criminal cases involving one or more felonies have more than doubled to 3,089 last year from 1,512 in 2004.

More than half of the new cases involving felonies last year — or 1,746 cases — were in Clark Circuit 3 Judge Joe Weber’s courtroom. Circuit Court 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi worked 958 felony cases, while Clark Circuit 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael oversaw 215 and Clark Circuit 1 Judge Dan Moore handled 170.

Moore noted he presided over three murder cases, including one transferred from Vanderburgh County, and other cases that he said took longer to complete than some felony cases. Carmichael also had lengthy trials involving violent crimes.

“Judges across the state are having to work harder,” Moore said, adding he doesn’t believe adding more judges is the solution.

Prosecutor Steve Stewart is convinced the county needs state relief. He described 2008 budget cuts to his and others departments as “a disaster” that hasn’t gotten better. He was forced to lay off a deputy prosecutor, investigator and two office workers at the time, and nearly all of his workers haven’t seen a pay increase since, he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 28, 2014 09:12 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts