Vanderburgh County magistrate bill passes committee

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vanderburgh County magistrate bill passes committee

STATEHOUSE — House Bill (HB) 1145, authored by State Representative Tom Washburne (R-Evansville) and co-authored by State Representatives Gail Riecken (D-Evansville), Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville) and Wendy McNamara (R-Mount Vernon), passed out of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee today. HB 1145 allows the Vanderburgh County circuit court judge to appoint a second full-time magistrate.

“Vanderburgh County currently has one circuit court judge and one magistrate,” said Rep. Washburne. “However, due to the extremely high work load of these two judicial officers, proper administration of justice calls for another magistrate.”

Courts in Indiana operate on a Weighted Caseload Measure (WCM), which determines how many judicial officers are needed to adequately serve the community. Currently, the WCM for the Vanderburgh County circuit court is 4.14 judicial officers. This means that two judicial officers are being asked to do the work of four people.

“While Vanderburgh County always has had a reputation for an effective criminal justice system, it also has suffered from insufficient personnel to make absolutely certain that these cases are being handled in a timely, efficient manner,” Riecken said. “A position like the additional magistrate post requested in House Bill 1145 will ensure that the disposition of cases moves quickly, and that there is proper administration of the many programs that are a part of the system, such as problem solving courts. I am delighted to join Rep. Washburne on this legislation, and all signs indicate that we should be able to make this post a reality this session.”

Adding another magistrate will allow the courts to operate in a more efficient manner, and both State Representatives McNamara and Sullivan agree.

“As Vice Chair of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee, I was honored to vote in favor of HB 1145,” said Rep. McNamara. “In the interest of efficiency and timeliness, a second full-time magistrate is absolutely essential.”

“No additional building space would be needed to accommodate an additional magistrate,” said State Rep. Holli Sullivan. “This is a critical need, and I am pleased that the Evansville Bar Association has given their support for this cause.”

During the Courts and Criminal Code Committee, supportive testimony for HB 1145 was bolstered by the Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge, David Kiely. The bill will now likely be sent to the House Ways and Means Committee for further discussion.