Monday, July 27, 2009

Complaining About Indiana Courts

Let us face facts, our courts are overworked, undermanned, and poorly funded.

What some people think the courts are capable of - the court cannot do (and in some cases, should not do). For example, the courts do not act as policeman in family law cases.

Still one would like to think that our courts are not an open embarrassment. As this report on an Illinois case shows, I might be overly optimistic. The appellate opinion does what the article did not and names the court: Hendricks Circuit Court.

No return telephone call? Ridiculous. I am glad I did not have to explain that to my clients.

Then we have The Indianapolis Business Journal reporting Lawmaker critical of court network's progress:

An effort to put all the state's courts on the same computerized case-management system and make court records available free online has reached only nine counties after seven years.

Supporters say the task is overwhelming and progress has been made despite a five-year false start. But at least one key lawmaker believes it's time to re-evaluate the project, which has cost the state about $20 million so far.

"That's not a very high performance level," Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. "I think we need to re-evaluate the project as far as where we are going and what we are going to do."

The project's goal is to equip all the state's courts and clerks with a computer system to manage cases, connect court systems with each other, police and state agencies, and make records available on the Internet.

Pay attention to two particular phrases: "manage cases" and "make records available on the Internet".

I know Marion, Madison, Grant, Henry, and Delaware Counties are not on this system. Pretty sure that Hamilton and Howard Counties are not on the system. Which leaves most of Indiana's population off the system. I have no idea how the courts in these counties manage their cases except by something like guesswork and juggling.

If you are wondering why it takes so long to get a court date, if you wonder why it takes so long to get a judgment, I suggest not all the blame falls on the lawyers. I do not think that the blame even belongs on many judges. Blame, if that is what is needed, falls on not funding the Indiana judiciary to meet the 21st century.

No comments: