Indiana Court Times https://indianacourts.us/times Fri, 05 Nov 2021 17:46:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.21 No Mountain Too High: Innovation Groups Explore How Courts Can Be Better https://indianacourts.us/times/2021/11/no-mountain-too-high/ Fri, 05 Nov 2021 15:04:39 +0000 http://indianacourts.us/times/?p=7293 Kathryn Dolan, Chief Public Information Officer | Office of Communication, Education & Outreach

Image of a person looking through a spyglass at a mountaintop.

When you reach a summit, it’s only natural to declare victory, but some journeys demand looking for an even higher peak. Exploring what Indiana’s court system can be—how it can best serve the community and resolve disputes fairly and efficiently—means looking for the next mountain to climb. This is exactly what the Supreme Court has charged the Innovation Initiative to do.

The Court established the Initiative in 2019, as part of its Office of Judicial Administration, to develop projects aimed at making Indiana’s justice system more efficient, less expensive, and easier to navigate while continuing to ensure justice is fairly administered and the rights of all litigants are protected.

The Initiative has three subcommittees focusing on technology, family law, and civil litigation. Two of the subcommittees have delivered formal reports to the Indiana Supreme Court suggesting dozens of ways to improve Indiana’s court system. The third subcommittee is working to formalize its ideas.

Family Law & Technology Reports

The Family Law Taskforce and the Technology Working Group attracted help from nearly 40 people—attorneys, judges, family law practitioners, technology specialists, educators, psychologists, and business and law professors. The volunteers contributed countless hours researching respected best practices and discussing potential court improvements.

Their ideas were submitted to the Indiana Supreme Court through two reports: the Family Law Taskforce Report and the Technology Working Group Report. The twenty-eight recommendations in these reports range from developing satisfaction surveys to the creation of online dispute resolution programs. The five Justices greatly appreciate the efforts and asked for the reports to be made public while the Initiative moves forward to begin the next phase.

Chief Innovation Officer Robert Rath explains, “We are now focusing our efforts on considering how and which ideas can be realized. Several pilot projects are already underway, for example ODR. Other ideas will require research, feasibility studies, and further Court approval before implementation could begin.”

Initial ideas include:

  • triage family law cases to match the level of services and case management to families’ needs
  • partnering with the Coalition for Court Access to update and expand resources for self-represented litigants at indianalegalhelp.org
  • providing trauma-informed training for family and juvenile judges
  • implementing online dispute resolution for small claims and family law cases
  • creating an online dashboard allowing attorneys and parties easier access to view documents in their cases

Civil Litigation

The Civil Litigation Taskforce—created in 2021—includes attorneys and judges from around the state and is chaired by Attorney Steven Badger. It’s charged with focusing on improving civil case procedures and management, with emphasis on service of process, discovery, alternative dispute resolution, case management, and self-represented litigants. The Taskforce has met and is considering ideas before its final report is due to the Supreme Court by year’s end.


The Initiative will continue to analyze court reforms, assess efforts in other states, and make recommendations for strategies to improve court processes in Indiana.

They welcome feedback through innovation@courts.in.gov and have information on the Innovation Initiative website.

Read the Family Law and Technology reports at on.in.gov/innovation-reports

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ICLEO Welcomes New Fellows: Building Equity Through Preparation https://indianacourts.us/times/2021/11/icleo-welcome/ Fri, 05 Nov 2021 15:01:32 +0000 http://indianacourts.us/times/?p=7311 A group photo of the ICLEO fellows with the Supreme Court bench as a background.
The 2021 ICLEO Summer Institute participants pose for a photo with Justice David in the Supreme Court Courtroom.

The Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity held the 2021 Summer Institute at I.U. McKinney in Indianapolis. The six-week intensive pre-law program features professors teaching concepts that will be learned in the first year of law school and allows opportunities to visit local legal institutions and to participate in volunteer projects. Twenty-four individuals, representing various rural and urban counties across the state, successfully completed the Summer Institute and have been welcomed as ICLEO Fellows.

As a Fellow, those students have access to professional development events, internships, externships, additional law school programming, and a network of over 600 other Fellows that have graduated law school and entered the legal community.

ICLEO was established in 1997 through collaboration between Chief Justice Randall Shepard and the Indiana legislature to assist minority, low income, or educationally disadvantaged college graduates to pursue a career in the Indiana legal profession and community.


For more information, visit courts.in.gov/cleo

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Century-old Supreme Court Postcard Discovered https://indianacourts.us/times/2021/11/century-old-supreme-court-postcard-discovered/ Fri, 05 Nov 2021 15:00:11 +0000 http://indianacourts.us/times/?p=7301 Jordan DuShane, Communication Intern | Office of Communication, Education & Outreach

The old postcard floats between two pieces of glass in a frame.
The Henry Bleckman postcard is seen in a frame on display in the Supreme Court Law Library.

While looking through an old shoebox belonging to his father, Charles Bleckmann came across a historic postcard from the Clerk’s Office at the Indiana Supreme Court addressed to his grandfather, Henry Bleckman (the spelling of the Bleckmann name changed over several generations). The postcard, dated November 30, 1878, refers to a case that was first appealed in the Warrick Circuit Court concerning a dispute over the location of a highway.

Hands clasp a plastic protective sheet containing the postcard.
Charles Bleckmann holds the century-old postcard addressed to their grandfather Henry Bleckman.

When Charles found the postcard, he recognized that it was written in German, which he finds surprising, noting the time period and where it came from. In fact, the Bleckmann family immigrated to the U.S. from Germany during the 1840s. Charles showed the postcard to a professor from the University of Dayton, who translated it as reading, “It will take about a year for the case to be decided,” followed by the signature of a clerk named Gabriel Schmuck.

Justice Slaughter gestures to the postcard as Charles Bleckmann observes in the Supreme Court Courtroom.
Charles Bleckmann presents the postcard to Justice Geoffrey Slaughter

Henry Blackman and other community members wanted to change the location of a highway and access Frederick Halves’ private property in order to do so. Blackman brought the case before the board of commissioners of Warrick County. The board initially agreed with Blackman but after Halves argued that the contemplated change in the location of the highway was not of public utility, it returned in favor of Halves. Blackman appealed to the Warrick Circuit Court where a jury determined that the highway would not be of public utility and ordered Blackman to pay $464 in damages.

Blackman appealed the jury verdict to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Court agreed to hear the case and affirmed the verdict of the jury. The Court found,

…that no person has the right to open and maintain a highway over the land of another without his consent, where such highway has been found not be of public utility.

Blackman v. Halves, 72 Ind. 515, 517 (1880).

The Court wrote that eminent domain could only be exercised by the government over private property when a public exigency exists.

Despite learning his ancestor lost the appeal, Charles was thrilled at the discovery and decided to gift the postcard to the Supreme Court. He and his wife, Cecilia Bleckmann, hand delivered the nearly 150-year-old postcard to the State House, where it is on display for visitors in the Supreme Court Law Library.

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The Honorable Jose Salinas https://indianacourts.us/times/2021/11/sidebar-jose-salinas/ Fri, 05 Nov 2021 14:59:51 +0000 http://indianacourts.us/times/?p=7307 This is the fifty-seventh Court Times article highlighting a member of the Indiana Judiciary

Judge Jose Salinas was elected to the Marion County Superior Court in 2007. He graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), located in south Texas along the Texas/Mexico border in 1989. He received his law degree from I.U. McKinney in 1997. Judge Salinas was a probation officer for four years in Illinois and experienced court on a daily basis.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in an area of south Texas where the population was over 90% Hispanic and was raised by my grandparents. We were not well off; in fact, we were migrant workers during my childhood, coming to central Illinois to work in the summers (and for one summer in California). Over time, some of my extended family stayed in Illinois, and that is where I went once I finished school. Nothing will motivate you more to complete school and do your best to make it than being a young teenager working alongside your grandmother detasseling corn.

Judge Jose Salinas
Judge Jose Salinas
A sepia-tone photograph of Judge Salinas as an infant.
Judge Jose Salinas as an infant

What’s your favorite meal, place to eat, or recipe?

I enjoy spaghetti. It’s a meal that my two kids and I make and eat together.

Do you have a favorite hobby?

I hate to admit it, but my hobby is watching TV and shows that have nothing to do with the type of work that I do. Getting one’s brain away from the daily grind is important so you get a chance to relax and focus again for the next day.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job, and what brings you joy?

The most challenging aspect of my job is seeing the same people come to court time after and time for drug-related charges. We can only do so much as judges; we can’t be with them 24 hours a day. Poor choices are sometimes made that result in criminal charges being filed. Seeing the destruction that drugs and drug addiction can bring is the worst part of my job.

The biggest joys are the problem-solving court graduations that I get to witness with those in my drug treatment and re-entry courts. Seeing individuals overcome hurdles and self-doubt and succeed in life is a wonderful thing. Those programs impact people’s lives in a positive way, and that’s good for all of us.

Judge Salinas and their kids wear blue Colts gear.
Judge Salinas enjoys a Colts game with his two children

What are you looking forward to in the next year or two?

I am looking forward to moving into our new Criminal Justice Complex and seeing how the courts operate in the new building.

What career would you choose if you weren’t already in this field?

I think I would like to be a teacher or in social work.

Do you have any advice for your colleagues?

Enjoy life and make sure you try to leave work at the office once your day is done or else it will eat at you. That’s where the unhealthiness can start.

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Open Conversations: Education Program about Racism and Racial Injustice Receives National Recognition https://indianacourts.us/times/2021/11/open-conversations-education-program-about-racism-and-racial-injustice-receives-national-recognition/ Fri, 05 Nov 2021 14:58:54 +0000 http://indianacourts.us/times/?p=7291 David Kuhnz, Staff Attorney | Office of Communication, Education & Outreach

Illustration of five diverse people with speech bubbles overhead.In July 2021, the Association for Continuing Legal Education presented its Award of Outstanding Achievement to the Indiana State Bar Association for Open Conversations: Racism and Racial Injustice, an ISBA program of dialogue and introspection about race and culture in the legal landscape. The program has heightened awareness within the legal community of racism and racial injustices, and has provided audiences with broader perspective and inspiration to stand for positive sustainable change.

The ISBA program launched in January 2021. Each month, Justice Steven David and attorney Angka Hinshaw (Marion County Public Defender Agency) have led frank discussions with featured panelists who shared their lived experiences and challenges with racism. The first discussion featured ISBA President Michael E. Tolbert and Chief Justice Loretta Rush, who discussed why she was moved to release a “Statement on Race and Equity” in June 2020.

Other topics discussed during the monthly Open Conversations series include Black women who have overcome racial barriers; racial issues related to higher education; and a candid conversation between the cohosts, Justice David and Ms. Hinshaw, about what they have learned throughout the ISBA program and their own personal journeys. To honor Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Open Conversations featured three Asian Americans who are trailblazers in the legal profession. Panelists included Mike Witte, retired Executive Director of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission and the first Asian American judge in Indiana; Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the first Asian American woman to serve on a federal court of appeals; and Sujata B. Chugh, an accomplished attorney at Mendrygal Law.

During the program in July, the audience gained insightful lessons from three prominent leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion: Karrah Herring, J.D., Chief Equity, Inclusion & Opportunity Officer for the State of Indiana; Natalue Runyon, Director of Enterprise Content, Talent, Inclusiveness & Culture at Thomson Reuters; and Gina Forrest, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief Diversity Officer for the Indiana Supreme Court, who used a math book as an analogy to explain the continuum of our own personal journeys in DEI.


For more information and on-demand access to previous Open Conversations, visit inbar.org. Future Open Conversations require advance registration through the ISBA and provide an opportunity to earn free CLE. Contact openconversations@inbar.org with comments or suggestions.

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