|Bill No.||Bill Title||Committee||2nd Reading||3rd Reading||Sponsor(s)|
|SB 28||Alcohol consumption by a minor||1/15/14 Do Pass –A||1/30/14 Engrossed||2/3/14 Passed 46-2||Wesco|
|SB 43||Child seduction||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 49-0||Ober, Culver|
|SB 52||Criminal penalties and DNR||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||Eberhart|
|SB 63||Nonsupport of a child||1/15/14 Do Pass –A||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 38-10||McMillin, Steuerwald|
|SB 64||Downloading of cell phone information by police||1/30/14 Do Pass||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 45-3||Speedy|
|SB 101||Agricultural operations and trespass||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/28/14 Engrossed –A||1/30/14 Passed 41-5||Steuerwald|
|SB 134||Fraudulent liens and encumbrances||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 48-1||Steuerwald, DeLaney|
|SB 169||Providing firearms to a felon||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed –A||2/4/14 Passed 43-5||McMillin, Steuerwald|
|SB 170||Sexual misconduct by a service provider||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||Dermody, Lawson|
|SB 171||Community supervision||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||McMillin, Steuerwald|
|SB 227||Alcohol and medical emergencies||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/27/14 Engrossed –A||1/28/14 Passed 49-0||McMillin, Frye|
|SB 236||Criminal law provisions of IC 7.1||1/15/14 Do Pass –A||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 47-0||Steuerwald, McMillin|
|SB 251||Animal control and protection||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed –A||2/4/14 Passed 37-11||Carbaugh, GiaQuinta|
|SB 291||Human trafficking investigations||1/23/14 Do Pass||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 49-0||Cox, McNamara|
|SB 305||Schedule I drugs and “spice”||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 48-1||M. Smith|
|SB 395||Bail||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 34-14||McMillin, Koch|
|HB 1006||Reconciles technical and substantive conflicts between HEA 1006-2013 (the criminal code revision bill) and other bills concerning criminal law||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 90-4||Steele, M. Young|
|HB 1009||Surveillance and privacy||1/28/14 Do Pass –A||1/30/14 Engrossed –A||2/3/14 Passed 85-11||Steele|
|HB 1140||Parole||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 81-15||Tomes|
|HB 1155||Expungement||1/16/14 Do Pass –A||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 81-15||Steele|
|HB 1268||Probation and community corrections treatment||1/23/14 Do Pass||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 94-0||M. Young, Steele|
|HB 1269||HEA 1006-2013 follow-up||1/23/14 Do Pass||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 92-1||M. Young, Steele|
|HB 1378||Familial DNA searches||1/23/14 Do Pass||1/27/14 Engrossed||1/28/14 Passed 98-1||Zakas|
|HB 1384||Downloading of cellular telephone information by police||1/27/14 Do Pass||1/29/14 Engrossed||1/30/14 Passed 87-3||Waltz|
|Bill No.||Bill Title||Committee||2nd Reading||3rd Reading||Sponsor(s)|
|SB 27||Petitions for adoption||1/16/14 Do Pass –A||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 48-0||Richardson, Head|
|SB 59||Guardian filing for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or annulment||1/23/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed –A||2/4/14 Passed 42-6||Mayfield|
|SB 160||Courts and court officers||1/16/14 Do Pass –A||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/24/14 Passed 45-0||T. Brown, Goodin|
|HB 1110||Department of child services||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 95-0||Holdman|
|HB 1014||Dissolution in cases of domestic violence||1/28/14 Do Pass||1/30/14 Engrossed||2/3/14 Passed 96-0||Bray|
|Bill No.||Bill Title||Committee||2nd Reading||3rd Reading||Sponsor(s)|
|SB 3||Judicial officers||1/15/14 Do Pass||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 47-1||Steuerwald, McMillin|
|SB 57||Military personnel jury service exemptions||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/23/14 Engrossed||1/24/14 Passed 45-0||Hamm|
|SB 60||Representation of judges in mandate of funds litigation||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||Steuerwald|
|SB 109||Supreme court justices and court of appeals judges||1/30/14 Do Pass||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Failed 24-24|
|SB 223||Senior and special prosecutors||1/30/14 Do Pass||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||Steuerwald|
|SB 235||Mental health pilot project||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed||2/4/14 Passed 48-0||Steuerwald, Frizzell|
|SB 366||Township small claims courts and garnishments||1/30/14 Do Pass –A||2/3/14 Engrossed –A||2/4/14 Passed 38-10||Frizzell, Speedy|
|HB 1095||Hamilton County magistrates||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/21/14 Engrossed||1/23/14 Passed 95-0||Merritt|
|HB 1145||Vanderburgh circuit court magistrate||1/16/14 Do Pass, 1/28/14 Do Pass –A||1/30/14 Engrossed||2/3/14 Passed 95-0||Becker, Tomes|
|HB 1178||Restricted addresses of judges||1/27/14 Do Pass||1/29/14 Engrossed||1/30/14 Passed 93-1||Head|
|HB 1347||Circuit court clerk administrative matters||1/27/14 Do Pass –A||1/29/14 Engrossed||1/30/14 Passed 89-0||Steele|
|Bill No.||Bill Title||Committee||2nd Reading||3rd Reading||Sponsor(s)|
|SB 24||Technical corrections||1/9/14/ Do Pass||1/13/14 Engrossed||1/14/14 Passed 49-0||Steuerwald, McMillin|
|Bill No.||Bill Title||Committee||2nd Reading||3rd Reading||Sponsor(s)|
|SB 36||Probate, trust, and transfer on death matters||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/30/14 Engrossed –A||2/3/14 Passed 47-0||Koch, Washburne|
|SB 246||Probate code study commission||1/16/14 Do Pass||1/27/14 Engrossed –A||1/28/14 Passed 49-0||Washburne|
This is the fourth weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2014 legislative session. If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find the bill information at the link below:
This week the Senate and House committees heard the following bills of interest to the judiciary:[Permalink]
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 40 concerning nonparty immunity authored by Sen. Steele for amend and vote only. As reported previously, this bill prohibits a defendant from asserting a nonparty defense, under which a defendant asserts that the damages of the claimant were caused in full or in part by a nonparty, if an Indiana statute grants the nonparty immunity from liability. The legislation also provides that the failure to assert a nonparty defense naming as a nonparty a person granted statutory immunity does not constitute legal malpractice. An amendment was adopted by consent sending this issue to the commission on courts or another appropriate legislative study committee for additional review. The amended bill passed 8-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 290 authored by Sen. Tallian and Sen. Steele concerning medical debt collection procedures. This bill defines “medical collection case” and prohibits the collection of prejudgment interest in a medical collection case. The bill also permits the defendant in a medical collection case filed in small claims court to remove the case to a circuit or superior court and makes the statute of limitations in a medical collection case two years (the statute of limitations is currently six years). The bill permits a person named as a defendant in multiple medical collection cases in the same county to consolidate them into one case and provides that separate medical collection cases may be consolidated in a small claims court if each separate case is under the jurisdictional amount for the small claims court, even if the aggregate amount in controversy in the consolidated case exceeds the jurisdictional amount. Lastly, the bill specifies that venue in a small claims court is in the defendant’s county of residence. Senator Tallian explained that this issue came to her attention after a client of hers had $40,000 in medical bills which resulted in ten individual collection actions, and necessitated several court dates and multiple filing deadlines. Consequently, the goal of the legislation is to consolidate cases even if the cumulative amount exceeds the small claims limit with the advantages to the defendant to help settle the case, and to the court to consolidate its caseload. The senator said limiting the statute of limitations is intended to compel creditors to file claims timely, and she focused on medical collections because it was such a large part of the small claims docket. Judge Baker of the Indiana Court of Appeals testified on his own behalf, supporting the bill and suggesting that the bill be referred to a summer study committee for broader examination balancing debtor and creditor interests. Mr. Jeff Weise, State Court Administration, cited statistics for 2013, reflecting that of the estimated 250,000 small claims cases filed, approximately 20% were medical collections (50,000 cases). An amendment was introduced urging the Legislative Council to assign the bill to the commission on courts or other appropriate committee to study medical debt collection procedures. The amendment was adopted by consent and the bill passed 7-0.
The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1369 authored by Rep. Cox on garnishment of state tax refunds. This bill provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. The bill also specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the department of state revenue. The bill was amended to change the time limit for an objection from 14 to 21 days. The amended bill passed 9-0.[Permalink]
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 52, Sen. Steele’s bill which converts certain DNR misdemeanors in Title 14 into infractions. The bill had been approved by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee. The Committee adopted an amendment continuing misdemeanor punishments for certain violations. The bill passed 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 64 authored by Sen. Waltz and Sen. Steele pertaining to the downloading of cell phone information by police. This bill prohibits a police officer from extracting or otherwise downloading information from a telecommunications device without the owner’s consent for a violation of the law concerning typing, transmitting, or reading a text message while operating a motor vehicle or for the commission of an infraction or ordinance violation unless: (1) the police officer has probable cause to believe that the telecommunications device has been used in the commission of a crime; (2) the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant; or (3) otherwise authorized by law. Testimony was heard in support of the bill. The bill passed 7-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 169, Sen. R. Michael Young’s bill on providing firearms to felons. The bill was amended: (1) to make theft a Level 6 felony if the property taken is a firearm; (2) to enact a new Level 5 felony of “criminal transfer of a handgun” for one who knowingly or intentionally transfers ownership of a handgun to one the transferor “knows or has reasonable cause to believe” is either ineligible to have a handgun or intends to use the handgun to commit a crime, and to make the offense a Level 2 felony if the handgun is used to commit murder; (3) to enact a new Level 5 felony of a “straw purchase of a handgun” offense to apply to the purchase of a handgun with the intent to sell or transfer the handgun to a person who is ineligible to have a handgun or whom the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe intends to use the handgun to commit a crime, and to make the offense a Level 2 felony if the handgun is used to commit murder; (4) to make it a Level 5 felony for a child who knowingly or intentionally provides a handgun to another child under the same circumstances as in (1) above, and to make the offense a Level 2 felony if the handgun is used to commit murder; and (5) to strike the original bill’s proposed new criminal code sections on bifurcated proceedings to enhance the new straw purchase or criminal transfer of firearm offenses to the same level of felony as the one committed by the person the defendant furnished with the firearm. As amended, the bill passed 8-1.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 170, Sen. Young’s bill to expand the sexual misconduct by a service provider offense to include not only individuals overseeing persons in lawful detention but also persons engaged in “lawful supervision” of persons not in detention. The DOC and Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council supported the bill, which was passed 9-0.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 171, Sen. Michael Young’s bill for a pilot project to consolidate community corrections and probation in Marion County. Sen. Young stated he would move for an amendment to strip out all the language in the original bill and substitute language requiring all community corrections programs and probation departments to formulate plans for collaboration. This amendment would require any county seeking community corrections funding to submit a collaboration plan to the DOC and the Judicial Center by July 1, 2017. The plan called for by the amendment must include: (A) a description of the evidence-based services provided to felony offenders by the community corrections program and the probation department; (B) the manner in which the community corrections program and the probation department intend to reduce the duplication of services to offenders under community supervision; (C) the manner in which the community corrections program and the probation department intend to coordinate operations and collaborate on the supervision of adult felony offenders; (D) the eligibility criteria established for community based services provided to adult felony offenders; (E) the criteria for using the community corrections program as an intermediate sanction for an offender’s violation of probation conditions; (F) a description of how financial aid from DOC, program fees, and probation user fees will be used to provide services to adult felony offenders; and (G) documentary evidence of compliance with DOC rules for community corrections programs and Judicial Conference of Indiana standards for probation departments. The amendment also would add language providing that the DOC may, “subject to availability of funds,” “give priority in issuing additional financial aid” to counties with a collaboration plan approved by the DOC and the Judicial Center. Jennifer Bauer, Staff Attorney for the Judicial Center and Linda Brady, Monroe Circuit Chief Probation Officer and President of the Probation Officers’ Professional Association of Indiana, testified in favor of the amendment. Also testifying in favor of the bill were: Tim Brown of DOC, Scott Brown of Wabash Valley Community Corrections (Knox and Pike Counties), Amber Finnegan of Jefferson County Community Corrections, and J. L. Brewer of Jackson-Jennings Community Corrections. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in favor of the bill, observing that it allows for substantial discretion and variation statewide. The Committee then adopted the amendment. Sen. Young noted that consolidation of programs was not mandated by the amended bill, but noted that localities which used their planning discretion to employ evidence-based practices and seek some consolidation would favorably position themselves to receive additional state funding. The Committee then passed the amended bill and recommitted it to the Appropriations Committee, by a vote of 8-1.
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 251, Sen. Wyss’s bill on animal control. After discussion, the Committee amended the bill by deleting the first section raising the I.C. 35-46-3-12.5 misdemeanor for failure to control a dog resulting in serious bodily injury to a Level 6 felony. As amended, the bill makes it an I.C. 35-46-3-12.5 domestic violence animal felony not just to kill but also to mutilate a vertebrate animal with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member. The bill passed as amended 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 395 authored by Senator Steele concerning bail. This bill provides that, if a court admits a defendant to bail, the court may require the defendant to do one of the following as selected by the defendant: (1) execute a bail bond with sufficient solvent sureties; (2) deposit securities in an amount equal to the bail; (3) execute a bond secured by real estate in the county, where thirty-three hundredths of the true tax value less encumbrances is at least equal to the amount of the bail; or, (4) execute a bail bond by depositing cash with the clerk of the court in an amount not less than 15% of the bail.
An amendment was adopted to restore a provision in the original bill permitting a court to require a defendant who elects to deposit cash or cash and another form of security as bail to execute an agreement that allows the court to retain all or a part of the cash to pay publicly paid costs of representation and fines, costs, fees, and restitution that the court may order the defendant to pay if the defendant is convicted. The amendment also removes a provision in the original bill that provided that if an individual deposits cash to execute a bail bond: (1) the clerk shall issue the individual a receipt for the cash; and (2) the individual must possess a copy of the receipt and a valid government issued photographic identification card to receive any remission of the cash the individual may otherwise be entitled to receive.
As amended, the bill also provides that, if a defendant: (1) was admitted to bail by depositing cash or securities; and (2) has failed to appear before the court as ordered; the court shall declare the bond forfeited 120 days after the defendant’s failure to appear and issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The bill specifies that, under the law concerning bail and bail procedure, a court: (1) may only declare a bond forfeited if a defendant fails to appear before the court as ordered; and (2) may not declare a bond forfeited because the defendant fails to perform any other condition of bail.
Several local bail bondsmen testified supporting the bill, as well as the executive director of the American Bail Coalition, who explained that the bill addresses bail as a means to ensure defendants appear balancing consequences for failure to appear and forfeiture consequences. Judge Surbeck, Allen county, testified on behalf of the Indiana Judges Association on the 10% premium for surety bonds versus the 15% deposit the bill would require for partial cash bonds expressing concern about the transparent disincentive to post surety because although the defendant doesn’t get the premium back even if he appears in court the upfront cost is less than for a partial cash deposit. Judge Surbeck also emphasized that bond is set to guarantee appearance, not to pay court fines and costs, and that defendants have a Constitutional right to reasonable bail, it is not established by statute. He further explained that the Chief Justice has appointed a committee to study pretrial detention issues. Judge Annie Christ-Garcia, Marion County, next explained that for Marion county failure to appear rates for surety bonds in 2013 were 10.75%, 14.5% for those who post cash bonds, and lowest for those individuals who post split cash and surety. The Association of Indiana Counties testified in support of the bill. The Public Defender Council testified against the bill due to the 5% difference it would establish between a surety bond premium and a partial cash deposit. He believes the surety bonds will go up and cash deposits will go down resulting in less court fees being paid without the cash deposits. The amended bill passed 5-2.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1009 authored by Rep. Koch on search warrants and privacy. Multiple amendments were adopted. The amended bill prohibits the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and tracking devices to conduct warrantless searches, with certain exceptions, and the placement of cameras or electronic surveillance equipment on private property to conduct warrantless searches, with certain exceptions. It also establishes additional requirements that must be met in order for a search warrant authorizing the use of a tracking device to be issued. The bill provides that, except for a law enforcement officer acting under a warrant and certain other persons under certain circumstances, a person who uses a tracking device without the consent of the person who is the object of the use, or a person who knowingly or intentionally places a camera or electronic surveillance equipment that records images or data of any kind while unattended on the private property of another person without the written consent of the owner or tenant of the private property, commits a Class A misdemeanor. It requires a search warrant to conduct a search of an electronic device or compel disclosure of an electronic communication service or electronic user data and a search warrant to obtain geolocation information. The amended bill also provides immunity from civil and criminal liability for certain entities that provide information pursuant to certain warrants and an exception to certain search warrant and notice requirements before electronic mail owned, controlled, or used by the state and obtained by the office of inspector general or an investigator for the inspector general is used in an administrative proceeding. It also provides certain procedures for the issuance of search warrants concerning electronic communication service or remote computing service that affect the law concerning a journalist’s privilege against disclosure of an information source. The amended bill urges the Legislative Council to assign to a study committee during the 2014 legislative interim the topic of digital privacy, including issues related to: (1) searches of electronic devices; (2) compelling the disclosure of electronic user data; (3) the collection and use of geolocation information; and (4) the collection and use of biometric information; by government agencies. The requirement that the clerk of a court that issues or denies a warrant to report each warrant to the Judicial Center, and that the Judicial Center submit this information to the Legislative Council was removed from the bill. The amended bill passed 6-1.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1384 authored by Rep. Speedy, on downloading of cellular telephone information by police. This bill prohibits a police officer from extracting or otherwise downloading information from a telecommunications device without the owner’s consent for a violation of the law concerning typing, transmitting, or reading a text message while operating a motor vehicle unless: (1) the police officer has probable cause to believe that the telecommunications device has been used in the commission of a crime; (2) the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant; or (3) otherwise authorized by law. It also provides that if a law enforcement officer detains a person because the law enforcement officer believes the person has committed an infraction or ordinance violation, the law enforcement officer may not, without the person’s consent, extract or otherwise download information from a cellular telephone or another wireless or cellular communications device possessed by the person at the time the person is detained unless: (1) the law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the cellular telephone or other wireless or cellular communications device has been used in the commission of a crime; (2) the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant; or (3) otherwise authorized by law. The bill seeks to draw a line between reasonable and unreasonable search tactics. Hoosier State Press Association testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 6-2.[Permalink]
The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1014 authored by Rep. Kubacki on dissolution in cases of domestic violence. This bill allows a court, in a dissolution of marriage case, to conduct a final hearing or enter a summary dissolution decree at any time after a petition or counter petition for dissolution has been filed if a party to the action has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence against the other party or against any child living in the same household as a party. It also requires the court to conduct the final hearing or enter a summary dissolution as soon as practicable. The bill allows a family law arbitrator to enter a summary dissolution decree at any time after a petition for dissolution has been filed if a party to the action has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence against the other party or against any child living in the same household as a party. The bill passed 9-0.[Permalink]
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 60 authored by Sen. Boots regarding representation of judges in mandate of funds litigation. The introduced version of the bill was stripped out and the matter referred to the Legislative Council for assignment to a legislative committee for study with particular attention to be paid to attorney’s fees. The amended bill passed 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 109 authored by Sen. Buck on supreme court justices and court of appeals judges. The bill removes the current mandatory retirement age of 75 years for appellate judges and allows appellate judges to retire at the age that judges of the circuit and superior courts are required to retire. The bill passed 6-1.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 223 authored by Sen. Holdman on senior and special prosecutors. The bill addresses the current lack of statutory accountability of special prosecutors and provides that a person may be appointed as a senior prosecuting attorney if the person was employed for at least eight years as a: (1) prosecuting attorney; (2) chief deputy prosecuting attorney; (3) deputy prosecuting attorney; or (4) deputy prosecuting attorney employed full time to perform certain duties related to child support provisions. Testimony in support of the bill was heard from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Prosecuting Attorney for Switzerland County. The bill passed 7-0.
The Senate Appropriations Committee heard SB 235 authored by Sen. R. Michael Young, Sen. Patricia Miller, and Sen. Taylor on the mental health pilot project. This bill requires community corrections programs to use evidence-based services, programs, and practices that reduce the risk for recidivism. It also permits the community corrections board to coordinate or operate certain programs. This bill establishes standards for the award of certain grants by the Department of Correction, requires the Department of Correction to consult with the Judicial Conference and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction before awarding grants, defines “mental health and addiction forensic treatment services”, establishes eligibility and treatment criteria, and creates the mental health and addiction forensic treatment services account to fund mental health and addiction forensic treatment services. It removes the requirement that the budget committee must approve the distribution of funds appropriated to the Judicial Conference to assist probation departments, specifies the purposes for which these funds may be used, and requires the Judicial Conference to develop a plan to establish application procedures and funding requirements for courts seeking assistance. It also requires the Judicial Conference to consult with the Department of Correction and the Division of Mental Health and Addiction before awarding financial assistance, and requires any person providing mental health and substance use treatment services be certified by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. Additionally, this bill establishes a three-year pilot project in Marion County to reduce recidivism by providing mental health and forensic treatment services. This bill was amended to change “shall” to “may” in multiple contexts, and to include the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Centerstone testified in favor of the bill. The amended bill passed 10-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 366 authored by Sen. Schneider and Sen. R. Michael Young concerning township small claims courts and garnishments. This bill requires the judges of all the Marion County township small claims courts to select from among themselves a small claims administrative judge to carry out certain duties currently performed by the Marion circuit court judge, including adopting uniform rules for conducting the business of the small claims courts. The bill also allows a vacationing small claims court judge, instead of the Marion circuit court judge, to authorize the appointment of a judge pro tempore to handle the judicial business of the small claims court.
The bill requires that the court order that a judgment or execution is a continuing lien upon the income or profits of the judgment debtor in the hands either of the judgment debtor or any other person from the date the order is served upon the person indebted to the judgment debtor to the extent that the lien, together with all similar liens, is allowed by law. An amendment was also introduced by Sen. Steele, and adopted by consent, making garnishment mandatory only after a defendant fails to comply with an agreed judgment.
Judge Spear of the Perry Township Small Claims Court explained that the bill will allow small claims judges administer their own courts by having the ability to adopt their own rules. Judge Rehme of the Lawrence Small Claims Court, and Judge Kitley, Franklin Township Small Claims Court, also testified in support of the bill. Mr. Stephen Lerch, a consumer collection attorney, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Jonathan Sturgill, attorney and president of the Indiana Creditors Bar Association, testified in support of the bill. Judge Rosenberg, Marion County Circuit Court, testified that he believed the bill is premature and urged the committee to have a county-wide perspective for operations regarding rules, practices and operations. Judge Rosenberg further explained that Marion County has solicited assistance from the National Center for State Courts on this issue. Judge Baker, Indiana Court of Appeals, at the request of Chief Justice Dickson, explained that a small claims court taskforce has issued a report to the Indiana Supreme Court concerning the small claims court in Marion County becoming a part of the superior court. Judge Baker requested a “time out” for the bill, so that continuing processes can be addressed and expertise through the National Center for State Courts can be utilized. Judge Baker would like a summer study committee to be convened to review small claims court issues. Regarding the garnishment provisions, Judge Baker supports judges continuing to have discretion.
A second amendment was introduced, and adopted by consent, sending certain issues in the bill (while not stripping the bill) to a summer study committee related to: (1) small claims court administration; (2) the jurisdictional amount in small claims actions; and (3) venue and the distribution of judicial resources in small claims actions. Those three issues were sent to the commission on courts or another appropriate legislative committee for further review. The amended bill passed 5-4.
The House Ways and Means Committee heard HB 1145 authored by Rep. Washburne and prepared by the Commission on Courts, allowing the Vanderburgh Circuit Court to appoint a second full-time Vanderburgh circuit court magistrate. The bill passed 15-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1347 authored by Rep. Mayfield on circuit court clerk administrative matters. The bill is intended to remove antiquated statutes that are no longer used. This bill requires that the clerk of the circuit court (clerk) or the county recorder (recorder) must be the secretary of the county commission of public records, as determined by mutual agreement of the clerk and the recorder or if a mutual agreement cannot be reached, an affirmative vote of the majority of the members of the commission. It eliminates the requirement that the clerk attend court proceedings and the per diem paid to the clerk or a deputy for attending court. It also allows the clerk to retain an administrative fee of up to $3 from any excess amount of fine, penalty, fee, or bail collected and refunded by the clerk. This bill also requires the cost of an initial mailing of a document by certified or registered mail to be paid out of court costs and fees, and any additional certified or registered mailings to be paid by the person requesting the additional mailings. The Association of Indiana Counties testified in support of the bill. The Clerks Association also testified in support of the bill. This bill also allows the clerk to keep the lis pendens record, the execution docket, and the register of witness fees and court fees in electronic form if all information is available via electronic access. An amendment replaces the phrase “via electronic access” with “the public to inspect or copy in electronic form.” The Hoosier State Press Association explained and spoke on behalf of the amendment. The amended bill passed 7-1.[Permalink]