The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Steele’s SB 103 making changes to the process of appointing the Judicial Nominating Commission. This bill attempts to include the legislative branch in choosing members of the Judicial Nominating Commission by providing that the non-attorney members of the Judicial Nominating Commission shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the Senate, and the minority leader of the House of Representatives. A member of the Judicial Nominating Commission and Indiana Trial Lawyers Association testified in favor of the bill. The bill passed, 7-1.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Buck’s SB 124 removing the requirement that Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges retire at 75 years of age. The bill passed, 6-2.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, for amend and vote only, heard Sen. Smith’s SB 233 on local funds. The bill specified that money in certain county funds may be paid from those funds only upon appropriation by the county fiscal body. The bill repealed a provision specifying that the adult and juvenile supplemental probation services funds may not be used to replace other funding of probation services, provided that money in the county supplemental adult and juvenile probation services funds may be used only to provide probation services and to pay part or all of the salaries of probation officers, and specified that the county fiscal body determines the amount of any appropriations made from the county supplemental adult probation services fund. Under current law, money in the funds may be appropriated only for supplementing those services and supplementing those salaries. The Committee amended the bill to restore the probation user fee provisions to current law, but kept the repeal of provisions specifying that the adult and juvenile supplemental probation services funds may not be used to replace other funding of probation services. The amendment added a provision requiring the judge of a court that expends money appropriated from the supplemental probation services fund to appear before the county fiscal body when requested to report on the expenditure of funds. Similar changes were made with respect to the recorder’s and sheriff’s funds. The amended bill was defeated, 2-9.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard Rep. Bacon’s HB 1061 allowing the judges of the Warrick Circuit and Superior Courts to jointly appoint a Warrick County courts magistrate. The Commission on Courts made this recommendation in 2010. Warrick County judges, Judge David Kelley, Judge Keith Meier, and Judge Robert Aylsworth testified in support of the bill. The bill passed, 13-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard Rep. Speedy’s HB 1384 on Marion County courts. This bill allows the Marion Superior Court judges to convert 12 full-time commissioners to magistrates after December 31, 2013. In Marion County, it also provides that when a traffic violation infraction enters the deferral program, the defendant shall pay a fee of $35 in addition to the other deferral program fees. The additional fees must be transferred to the Marion County dedicated fund used to pay for compensation of the commissioners and the costs of the county’s guardian ad litem program. Judge David Certo, presiding judge of Marion Superior Court, stated that converting the commissioners to magistrates is supported by the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan and that he had started discussion with the Commission on Courts regarding this plan. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Marion County Prosecutors Office testified against raising the price of the deferral program. The Committee held the bill to attempt to address concerns of the Committee.
The House Ways and Means Committee heard HB 1393, authored by Rep. Steuerwald and coauthored by Rep. Richardson, Stemler, and Delaney, on Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (“JTAC”). This bill establishes the Judicial Technology Oversight Committee (“JTOC”) to conduct a continuous study of information technology applications for the judicial system, develop a long range strategy for technology and automation in the judicial system, and make recommendations to the Supreme Court concerning the implementation of policies, standards, and rules that promote the effective use of technology and automation in the courts. The Committee will consist of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Information Officer of the Office of Technology, a member of the Senate, a member of the House of Representatives, a trial court judge, a circuit court clerk; and an attorney admitted to the practice of law in Indiana. This bill also increases the automated record-keeping fee from $5 to $10 for all civil, criminal, infraction, and ordinance violation actions except actions resulting in the accused person entering into a pretrial diversion program agreement, or deferral program agreement. The automated record-keeping fee is $5 for all civil, criminal, infraction, and ordinance violation actions resulting in the accused person entering into a pretrial diversion program agreement, or deferral program agreement. Because counties that do not use the Odyssey CMS get to retain 20% of the automated record-keeping fee presently, the increase in that fee to $10 means that those non-Odyssey counties will keep $2 of each fee. Justice Mark Massa and Donna Edgar of JTAC aided the author in presenting the bill and answering the Committee’s questions. Floyd County Circuit Court Clerk Linda Moeller, the Indiana State Bar Association, and on behalf of the Indiana Judges Association Hamilton County Superior Court Judge William Hughes testified in favor of the bill. Julie Fox, the president of the Clerk’s Association, testified that the Association is neutral. The Association of Indiana Counties, Rep. Peggy Mayfield, and the presidents of Doxpop and CSI testified against the bill. The Committee held the bill for more information.