Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why get specific findings?

The Indiana Family Law Blog makes a very good point in Are trial courts doing their job?:

"The Court of Appeals noted that while trial courts are required to consider all of the factors set forth in the statute, trial courts are not required to address each of them in a written decision.

Is this approach helpful? While trial court judges tend to be busy, perhaps requiring that each factor be addressed in writing will help parties understand the logic behind the trial court’s ruling. Clearly, there is a tension between judicial economy and resources and transparency and understanding by the public about the work of the courts. How to best balance those competing interests is worthy of thought and reflection."
One solution - maybe the only one - uses Indiana Trial Rule 52 Findings by the Court. Particularly, the following section of Rule 52:
(A) Effect. In the case of issues tried upon the facts without a jury or with an advisory jury, the court shall determine the facts and judgment shall be entered thereon pursuant to Rule 58. Upon its own motion, or the written request of any party filed with the court prior to the admission of evidence, the court in all actions tried upon the facts without a jury or with an advisory jury (except as provided in Rule 39[D]) shall find the facts specially and state its conclusions thereon....
I found this rule very useful in cases where questions might arise about how the judge came to the conclusions in the judgment. Yes, it does require additional work for the lawyers - the vast majority of courts have the parties' attorneys draw up proposed findings which the court then will use as its own.

I also use this rule in any case I think might be appealed. The Court of Appeals review specific findings differently than how they review mere general judgment.

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