Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Agreement between Courts and County Council Signed

On June 17, 2008, a majority of the members of the Carroll County Council and Judges Currie and Smith signed the agreement resolving their differences regarding the 2008 budget.

Friday, June 6, 2008

What Happens When You Can't Keep Up!

Although the budgetary problems faced by Carroll County and the Carroll County Courts are not a laughing matter, a little comic relief is sometimes helpful. As I envisioned the consequences of what would happen to the cases in my court without adequate staff, this scene from an "I Love Lucy" episode, remembered from childhood, kept coming to mind. It was a pleasant surprise to discover the video clip was available on YouTube. I hope it will make you smile too! Jeff Smith

Statement by Judges in June 11, 2008 Comet


We are thankful that an understanding has been reached with the Carroll County Council that provides the funds necessary for the courts to remain fully open. The courts will have the staff required to handle the caseload which has been undiminished by the recent financial crisis. Without the funding now in place, the courts would have been unable to adequately handle the 750 criminal cases, 118 dissolutions (divorces), 89 estates and guardianships, 50 paternity case, 1600 traffic infractions, 400 small claims, 62 protective orders, and a large number of other civil cases we anticipate will be filed in 2008.

Funds have also been appropriated to meet the state and federal constitutional requirement of providing attorneys for indigent criminal defendants. Without the ability to provide counsel to those defendants, their cases cannot go forward.

The full text of the agreement can be found at:

After a scrivener’s error in the original agreement is corrected, we anticipate that the agreement will be signed by the County Council and Judges on June 17, 2008.

We have taken these budgetary matters seriously and consider it our duty to keep the courts open for business. It certainly has not been a laughing matter. However, having averted a crisis through the agreement with the Council, we have now included a lighter look at what our courts might have been like without adequate staffing through an I Love Lucy video on our Blog. We hope it will cause you to smile too.

Thank you to the many supporters and to those who have taken the time to become more fully informed regarding the responsibilities of the judiciary in Carroll County. We plan to continue to use the Blog to post information about the courts from time to time and will also include links that may be helpful to the citizens of Carroll County. After the agreement is signed, we may post our concluding thoughts, if appropriate.

Paid for by Donald E. Currie and Jeffrey R. Smith

Agreement Between Council and Courts


The following agreement has been tentatively approved by both the Carroll County Council and the Carroll County Courts. It is anticipated that the document will be signed by all parties on June 17 when the County Council next meets.

Agreement made by and between the Carroll County Council (Council) and the Carroll County Courts (Courts) by Donald E. Currie, Judge of the Carroll Circuit Court, and Jeffrey R. Smith, Judge of the Carroll Superior Court.

A. The funds to finance government services for Carroll County in 2008 are significantly reduced from prior years. This has created a financial crisis and required the Council to reduce the budgets of all county departments. As a result, the Council has been required to make many difficult decisions.
B. Under Indiana law, the Council is required to provide reasonable and necessary funds for the operation of the Courts and to provide funds for indigent counsel.
C. It is the duty of the Courts to see that criminal cases are tried. Criminal cases cannot be tried unless the defendant, if he is without funds or property to provide his own attorney, is provided an attorney at public expense.
D. The Indiana Constitution provides that courts shall be free and independent and able to function properly in administering justice. If reasonable and necessary funding is not provided by the Council, the Courts have the authority to require payment of expenses necessary for the proper functioning of the courts.
E. The funds currently appropriated for the Courts would reduce the Circuit Court staff to one person and the Superior Court staff to two persons during the second half of 2008 and reduce the funds available for indigent counsel by $50,000. The Courts contend this would make it impossible for the Courts to function properly in administering justice. The Courts have indicated their intent to file a mandate action to have the differences between the Courts and Council as to the funds necessary for the operation of the courts ultimately resolved by the Indiana Supreme Court.
F. The Council and the Courts have concluded that it is in the best interest of the citizens of Carroll County to resolve their differences through agreement and to avoid the expense and delay that would result from a mandate action.
G. The following agreement results in reductions in the general fund, allows previous reductions to remain in effect, and provides a means of avoiding additional appropriations for the cost of indigent counsel later in the year. It also allows the Courts to retain the staff essential for the operation of the Courts and provides funds for public defenders to indigent defendants as required by the United States and Indiana Constitutions.

IT IS THEREFORE agreed as follows:
1. The Council will transfer the following probation department salaries from the General Fund to Fund #0504 (Supplemental Adult Probation Users Fees):
a. Chief Probation Officer's remaining salary as of April 4, 2008; and
b. Probation Secretary's remaining salary as of April 4, 2008
The Second Deputy Probation Officer's salary will be paid from the Supplemental Adult Probation Users Fees for all of 2008.
2. The parties acknowledge that the Supplemental Adult Probation Users Fees Fund is intended for supplemental probation services and not the replacement of other funding of probation services. In the light of the current financial crisis, the Courts will not voice an objection to the transfers. The Courts are not waiving the right to object to the payment of the Chief Probation Officer or the Probation Secretary from the Supplemental Adult Probation Users Fees in future years and will require that those positions be paid from the general fund in 2009.
3. The following reductions will be made in the Joint Court budget:
a. The total appropriation for Indigent Counsel will be reduced from 12,000 to $10,600;
b. The total appropriation for Additional Pauper Counsel will be reduced from $70,000 to $64,000; and
c. The total appropriation for Public Defender shall be reduced from $71,050 to $62,050;
for a total reduction of $16,400.
4. The Courts will make available any remaining funds in the Drug and Alcohol Fund for public defender, additional public defender, indigent counsel, or guardian ad litem expenses before seeking additional appropriations from the county general fund if the expenditure exceeds appropriations in 2008.
5. The Courts will re-evaluate the feasibility of qualifying for reimbursement of certain certified expenditures as provided by IC 33-40-7.
6. The amount originally appropriated for the Superior Court part-time court reporter will be reduced to $12,225 for 2008 from $15,225.
The Council and Courts have entered into this agreement this ____ day of May 2008.

Donald E. Currie, Judge Jeffrey R. Smith
Carroll Circuit Court Carroll Superior Court

Carroll County Council


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thank You to the Comet

Thank you for your article making the citizens of Carroll County aware of our blog.
I do think you need a better and more recent photo of Judge Currie. I will email you this one.

Jeff Smith

Important Update - New Calculations

Although we have reported in this blog the reductions already made to the court budgets (approximately $90,000), that has not been our primary focus. We want the public to understand that the additional demands made by the county council will cripple the courts. We believe our most recent assessment of the situation makes this clear.

Since posting the entry regarding contingency plans and making the video presentation below, we have made a more detailed calculation to determine the impact of the most recent cuts. Cases are scheduled several weeks and sometimes several months in advance. When the final budget was determined by the council in early May, the court calendars were already full through the month of June. The current staffing will be necessary for the scheduled cases, and it will not be possible to reduce staff of the courts prior to July 1, 2008.

To achieve the additional $20,000 reduction demanded of the Circuit Court, Judge Currie will have to do without his deputy court reporter during the final 26 weeks of 2008 and will have a bailiff for approximately 8 weeks of the 26 weeks. Allowing for vacation time already earned, the Circuit Court will only have one employee to do the work of three during the second half of 2008. There will be several weeks when he will not have a court reporter. (The current staff of the Circuit Court consists of a court reporter, deputy court reporter, and bailiff.)

To achieve the additional $20,000 reduction demanded of the Superior Court, Judge Smith will have to do without deputy court reporter, the part-time reporter, and will have to reduce the number of weeks that his court reporter will work during the second half of 2008. There will be several weeks when Judge Smith will only have one employee to do the work of three and one-half employees as well as times without a court reporter. (The current staff of the Superior Court consists of a court reporter, deputy court reporter, part-time court reporter, and a bailiff.)

With the required reductions in staffing, it will be not be possible for the court to conduct business as usual. A court reporter is necessary to have hearings in court. Sometime there will be no court reporter. The courts will be on life support for six months.

The courts, as instructed, have operated on the 2007 budget since January 2008. Due to the delay by the council in reaching a final budget, the additional cuts must be made over a six month period instead of a full year. The effect is to double the impact of the cuts. The elimination of a staff person at mid-year only reduces the annual budget by one-half of that person’s salary because the other half has already been paid to her.

Sunday, May 11, 2008