At their regular meeting held 03 April 2018 the Posey County Board of Commissioners listened attentively and courteously to my plans for an auxiliary courtroom. President Jim Alsop and Commissioners Jay Price and Carl Schmitz asked relevant questions and made helpful suggestions.
A small but highly useful courtroom can be in operation on the first floor of the courthouse within a short time and for relatively little expense, certainly less than $50,000 for the physical plant and about $40,000 per year salary for a full-time court reporter. The judicial officer could be a senior judge or magistrate who would serve as needed. Senior judges are paid by the State of Indiana so there would be no cost to Posey County for a per diem judge. A magistrate would probably have to be paid by the county.
The Posey Circuit Court has not been allowed a new court reporter position for twenty years although I have noted the real need in several budget requests and our caseload has grown dramatically since 1998. The new full-time court reporter could be dedicated to this new court but could help relieve the burden on the existing court reporters when not in session with the on-call judge(s). Mental health, juvenile delinquency, Children in Need of Services and other confidential or sensitive hearings that usually involve few people but can be emotionally draining or rambunctious as well as numerous logistical matters that strain the regular Judge’s docket could be conducted in this smaller courtroom.
And Posey County’s Sheriff and Judges have long sought video capability for inmates, expert witnesses, disabled persons and numerous other routine matters, warrant applications, for example, or confidential electronic meetings between clients and attorneys.
The Commissioners sought to have a joint meeting about these issues with the Posey County Council on April 17, 2018 but schedules of all the necessary participants could not be accommodated for that date. The Commissioners wanted Chief Probation Officer Rodney Fetcher and me to set forth our plans then. As fortune would have it, I had planned to attend that April 17th meeting, but the Commissioners and Council had to reschedule it to May 01, 2018. Rodney will be there prepared to respond to any inquiries, but I will be helping teach other judges at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada on that day. Perhaps I can call in or attend electronically. I know we could work out such a video/audio conference if our new courtroom were already in operation.