Friday, May 2, 2008

What the Indiana Supreme Court has said about Mandates

We do not read these authorities as giving courts carte blanche to mandate funds for salaries and expenses of operation. The judiciary may mandate only an amount necessary for the operation of the courts. By the same token, we must maintain the degree of integrity and independence so essential to a strong and effective judiciary. Fiscal independence goes hand-in-hand with this concept. Accordingly, a balance must be drawn so that reasonable, rather than excessive or inadequate, funds are provided for our courts. Vigo County Council v. Vigo Superior Court, Div. 1, 272 Ind. 344, 346 (Ind. 1979)

Comment: A central purpose of courts is the resolution of disputes. The judges believe maintaining their current staff and having the ability to pay public defenders is essential to their judicial function. The county council apparently does not. The filing of a order of manadate is the method of bring the dispute between two branches of the government ultimately before the Indiana Supreme Court for a resolution. The special judge and the Supreme Court will determine whether funds in dispute are reasonable.

The efficient administration of justice which is the duty of the courts, cannot be made to depend upon the discretion or whim of the county council or any other administrative or executive officer of county government. . . . A court of general jurisdiction . . . . can not be directed, controlled, or impeded in its functions by any of the other departments of the government. The security of human rights and the safety of free institutions require the absolute integrity and freedom of actions of courts. Woods v. State (1954) 233 Ind. 320, 324-5n. 3, 119 N.E.2d 558.

The court or the judge thereof is better informed in that particular area than may be members of a legislative body or council who may desire from time to time to pull the purse strings too tight upon the operations of some court which falls within its disfavor. Carlson v. State ex rel. Stodola (1966) 247 Ind. 631, 638, 220 N.E.2d 532, 536.

Comment: The judges are better informed regarding the staffing needs of the court. No staffing studies were made by the county council. No member of the council cames to the courts to make inquiry about caseloads or court calendar. The decision to demand the removal of an additional $90,000 from the court budgets was based solely upon a need to reduce the overall budget by that amount without regard to the impact upon the courts. That is why the county council has refused to indicate the what line items should be reduced or eliminated.