(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth of a four-part series on the Kosciusko County Courts.)
KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — The coming year will see a change in what cases are heard in what courts. This is based on what is known as a county court’s local rule, filed every two years with the Indiana Supreme Court. The plans are approved on a biannual basis. Kosciusko County amended its plan in April.
The local rule sets out the allocation of cases, determined by all judges in that county’s court system. It is through this local rule overweighted courts, such as Superior Court 1, can share the caseloads with other courts. However, Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed noted Superior Courts 2 and 3 have somewhat limited jurisdiction.
The latest local rule was filed April 24, and approved by the Supreme Court Aug. 3. Some cases have already been transferred, but Jan. 1, 2018, all new cases will be distributed according to the amendment to the local court rules.
“David (Cates, Superior Court 1 judge) has way too many cases,” said Reed, noting the new allocation plan approved will move some of those cases to Superior Court 2. “It (the local rule) shows that Torrey (Bauer, Superior Court 2 judge) will start getting new level 5 and 6 felonies. This will cut down on the criminal cases filed in Superior 1 … what happens there is Superior 2 will get 100-200 more felonies,” Reed stated.
Superior Court 3, Judge Joe Sutton, will continue to get felony driving offenses, felony alcohol related cases and non-support, according to Reed. Reed’s court will continue to get the drug offenses and the higher level cases.
The local rule provides a percentage breakdown of excess cases. “The reason we did that was because of the numbers.” The local rule covers civil and criminal case filings.
Effective Jan. 1, civil cases will be distributed in the following manner:
Circuit Court will receive all cases that have the classification of mental health, tax sales and verified tax petitions, 30 percent of domestic relation cases.
Superior Court 1 will received cases with classifications of CHINS, juvenile delinquency, juvenile status, juvenile paternity, juvenile miscellaneous, term of parental rights, and 20 percent of cases involving domestic relations with or without children.
Cases involving plenary, tort, reciprocal support, adoptions, estates, estates unsupervised, guardianships and trusts, along with 25 percent of the miscellaneous cases can be alternately filed in either Circuit or Superior Court 1.
Superior Court 2 will receive all infractions, one-fourth of the collection cases, and 30 percent of domestic relations cases.
Superior Court 3 will receive cases involving ordinance violations, small claims and protective orders except those cases where paternity, domestic relations is in existence involving the same parties, and small claims, 75 percent of the miscellaneous cases, 20 percent of the domestic relations cases and three fourths of the collection cases.
Mortgage foreclosure classes will be divided equally with Circuit Court or Superior Court 3. Any court can handle the expungement cases.
Regarding criminal cases:
Circuit Court will received 30 percent of D felonies, 50 percent of C felonies, 35 percent of all F 6, F5 and F4 felonies, all cases involving controlled substances, and all cases filed under the homicide statute.
Superior Court 1 will receive 20 percent of the D felonies, 30 percent of C felonies, 35 percent of F4 felonies and 5 percent of F5 and F6 felonies, and all juvenile cases.
Superior Court 2 will receive 10 percent of D felony cases, 15 percent of all F5 and F6 felonies, and all misdemeanor cases.
Superior Court 3 will receive 40 percent of D felonies, 20 percent of C felonies, 30 percent of all F4 felonies and 45 percent of all F5 and F6 felonies, and all felonies filed under traffic codes.
The local rule order notes all other felonies will be assigned on an alternating basis.
Juvenile’s waived to adult court will have cases assigned to the court in accordance with the rule, and any case that has felony and misdemeanor charges together, will be considered a felony and assigned to the appropriate court. All post conviction relief cases will be filed in the court the case was originally filed.