Friday, June 6, 2008

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


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