Criminal Justice

Chief Justice Dickson Offers His State Of Judiciary

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January 16, 2014 — Network Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Chief Justice Brent Dickson is praising legislators for what he calls a “masterful” job of revising Indiana‘s criminal code — and urging them to stick with it.

Legislators voted last year to expand Indiana‘s five categories of felony to seven, to allow finer distinctions in sentencing and give judges more leeway. In his “State of the Judiciary” address, Dickson acknowledged some final tweaks are likely before the new code takes effect in July. But he says legislators shouldn‘t undermine their core achievement by diminishing judges‘ discretion. He says that flexibility is essential to keeping prison costs under control while keeping the public safe.

Dickson‘s also urging legislators to act on recommendations from a task force which investigated the operation of Marion County‘s small claims courts. The panel found a perception of an overly cozy relationship between creditors‘ attorneys and some judges in the township-administered courts.

Dickson says the court is working with the Indiana State Bar Association to require annual reporting of the volunteer legal services attorneys provide. He says there‘s a need for more pro bono work to reduce the number of unrepresented parties in civil suits, which currently stands at nearly two out of three.


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