INDIANAPOLIS — Kosciusko County Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed and Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton traveled to Indianapolis to speak before the Senate Committee on Judiciary regarding Senate Bill 126 – allowing a fourth Superior Court Judge for the county.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Randy Head and first read on Jan. 3, was passed out of the Committee on Judiciary by a vote of 10-0. Local officials will be appearing before the appropriations committee in the next phase of the bill’s path. The request was unanimously given a stamp of approval by the interim study committee on the courts and judiciary in October 2017.
Reed, who received a resolution from the county commissioners Tuesday, Jan. 9, reaffirming its support of a fifth court in the county, noted the latest calculations of caseloads show the four county judges are handling the caseloads of 5.26 judges.
Kosciusko County judicial system has been shown to need upward of five judges since 1998, based on the Indiana judicial system’s weighted caseload figures. Knowing a change in the way case loads were measured, local judicial officials decided to wait to make a request for a fifth judge and court. It’s been 20 years since the county has made any changes in the number of courts.
Throughout the state all judicial offices kept track of cases and time spent for one month. The computation of those numbers didn’t alter the fact the four judges in Kosciusko County were doing the work of 5.96 judges, at that time.
The Kosciusko Judiciary began to present its desire to establish a Kosciusko Superior Court 4 to the Kosciusko County Commissioners and Kosciusko County Council in November 2016. “We believe an additional judicial officer is needed in Kosciusko County and has been for quite some time,” the letter states. That letter from the Joint Courts of Kosciusko County was signed by all four judges.
Documentation, initially to the councils, but also to the study committee,included the 2016 time study regarding caseload assessment and allocation, commissioned by the Indiana Supreme Court. That report showed Kosciusko County was ranked seventh for need of additional judicial resources.
Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed noted those figures, however, undercounted the caseload numbers for his court. Problem-solving cases were not reported. The original figures showed 5.09 judicial officers were needed. When adjusting the report to include the problem-solving cases, the need was 5.22.