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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ind. Courts - State court administrative structure being overhauled; also, Justice Rucker is planning to retire

Niki Kelly, statehouse reporter for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, has two-stories-in-one in the Sunday J-G.

The lengthy story reports about half-way through that Justice Robert Rucker plans to retire in 2017, although he won't turn 75 until 2022.

As for the overhaul:

In the past few months, several key people have announced they are leaving and two high-level posts have been created with interviews underway.

Rumors that all employees have been asked to reapply for jobs are just that – rumor.

“We can’t just stop. We have to move forward,” [Chief Justice Loretta] Rush said of streamlining operations for more efficiency. “We are evaluating from top to bottom so we don’t become stagnant.”

To the average citizen, the Indiana Supreme Court is five justices in black robes and some law clerks who help craft opinions.

But in reality there are about 200 employees and the court encompasses nine other agencies or programs. * * *

[T]he Division of State Court Administration ­stretches into the trial court level in all 92 counties – working on court procedures, administering payroll for judges and prosecutors, reporting caseload and fiscal information and providing technology support to all courts.

There is also the Indiana Judicial Center, which provides education and research for judicial officers, trains probation officers and oversees specialized courts.

Three years ago, Chief Justice Brent Dickson became concerned that as the court gained new justices and employees aged, a lot of institutional knowledge would be lost.

Rush said next year – after Justice Robert Rucker retires – the court will have five justices with six years’ experience or less on the bench. * * *

The first major change is the adding of two new positions: the Chief Administrative Officer and a Fiscal Officer. Applications were due April 1 and should be filled this summer. The administrative post will pay between $133,600 and $141,100. The fiscal position will pay between $88,100 and $97,950.

Rush said the Chief Administrative Officer is a new layer between her and the individual agencies and boards. It provides a single point of contact when staff across the spectrum are trying to get an item on the conference schedule for all five justices to consider. And that person will report directly to Rush.

The Fiscal Officer will prepare budgets and manage payment claims. Rush said 22 people now touch various pieces of the fiscal process with no one in charge.

“Our goal is to be better, to be stronger,” she said.

Judson is one of two key departures at hand. She has been with the court in various positions since 1977. She leaves later this summer after helping with the transition of the new Chief Administrative Officer.

“I’ve grown roots here,” she said.

David Remondini – who served the court for more than 20 years and was most recently the interim executive director of the Division of State Court Administration – also recently bid farewell. He is leaving to be a jet pilot.

He already cut his goodbye cake but is sticking around behind the scenes until the end of the month to help with the transition to his successor.

Also, in March, Clerk of Courts Kevin Smith abruptly resigned. Interim Clerk Greg Pachmayr is filling in but a new clerk will be hired soon.

The ILB had a post on Feb. 10th headed "Big changes in Indiana court administration underway," that began:
The Supreme Court has announced this morning that the Supreme Court is organizing single Office of Judicial Administration.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 17, 2016 05:34 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts