Saturday, July 24, 2010

07242010 - News Article - Probate commissioner named to help magistrate with cases - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Probate commissioner named to help magistrate with cases
Post Tribune
July 24, 2010
http://infoweb.newsbank.com.proxy.portagelibrary.info/resources/doc/nb/news/1313D59E1D6423B0?p=AWNB
VALPARAISO -- A probate commissioner has been assigned to help Magistrate James Johnson with a backlogged divorce and probate cases.

Porter County's Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper ruled during Friday morning's public hearing that there is a need for one, and after 2 p.m., Harper issued a press release naming Attorney Mary A. DeBoer of Valparaiso as the appointment, made by the six Porter County judges, for 60 to 90 days.

DeBoer served as a temporary judge while Johnson was receiving medical treatment, a news release stated.

"The appointment of a probate commissioner is necessary to protect the interests of litigants," Harper said at the public hearing.

She added that her court budget has adequate funding to pay for the hourly position, but didn't say how much it will cost.

The judges first discussed the possibility of a probate commissioner on Wednesday, in a closed meeting addressing Johnson's backlog of cases under advisement.

After that meeting, Harper said that the commissioner was being considered to work on incoming cases while Johnson worked to close cases he has under advisement.

His illness this winter aggravated the backlog, Harper said then.

At the end of the June quarter, Johnson had 97 cases under advisement, although he reduced that into the 80s this past week.

The judges imposed a schedule Wednesday for him to finish by October.

Johnson did not attend the public hearing, although his supervising judge, Roger Bradford, appeared with their shared staff.

Two women spoke from the gallery at the hearing, both in favor of a probate commissioner appointment to speed up cases.

Linda Moore of Valparaiso said she filed for divorce in September and has had two hearings but no rulings. Janet Miller of Valparaiso said her case is in Magistrate Katherine Forbes's court, and although her divorce was granted in March 2009, there's still no settlement and the next date is next March.

As probate commissioner, DeBoer will conduct hearings and address

probate and divorce cases.A 1993 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, she worked extensively in the Starke County Prosecutor's office and served in the Porter County Prosecutor's office.

DeBoer was also a magistrate in Starke in 2005 and 2006.

07242010 - News Article - Attorney is hired to help ease backlog - Hearing sheds light on the pain of trial delays - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



07242010 - News Article - Attorney hired to help ease court's backlog in Porter County - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation




Attorney hired to help ease court's backlog in Porter County
NWI Times
July 24, 2010
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/attorney-hired-to-help-ease-court-s-backlog-in-porter/article_6e9283d1-4ea6-5820-9c26-0795e35fd29a.html
VALPARAISO | Tears welled up in Linda Moore's eyes as she described how she filed for divorce nine months ago before Magistrate James Johnson and had two hearings, yet is still waiting for a ruling.
The delay, she said, is adding to the already painful process.

Moore was one of two people who spoke out during a public hearing Friday in favor of the county judges hiring a part-time probate commissioner to handle new cases in Johnson's courtroom while he is freed up to work on a backlog of cases that had reached 97 at the end of last month.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, who hosted the hearing in her courtroom, issued word later in the day that attorney Mary DeBoer had been hired for the job.

DeBoer, who works with the Starke County prosecutor's office, had served as temporary judge in Johnson's court while he received medical treatment, according to a news release issued by the county judges.

The judges said DeBoer's appointment is expected to last 60 to 90 days.

The move was favored not only by the two women with pending divorces who spoke out during he hearing, but also in writing by four attorneys, Harper said.

The decision to hire a probate commissioner was made earlier this week by the county judges.

Harper said earlier this week that Johnson will be given a weekly schedule designed to guide him through the backlog of cases by Oct. 1. The county's six judges constantly will monitor his progress, she said.

While fellow Magistrate Katherine Forbes had just three cases under advisement at the end of last month, Valparaiso resident Janet Miller, who spoke out during Friday's hearing, said afterward her divorce case has been pending before Forbes since July 2005.

The divorce itself has gone through, she said, but there has yet to be a settlement on assets.

The backlog before Johnson reportedly has triggered a state investigation, though officials there will not comment.

While Johnson's poor health has contributed to the backlog of cases, Harper said she believes he now is doing well enough to resolve the problem.

Johnson has served as a magistrate since 1989. He and Forbes handle divorce, estate and guardianship cases.

The part-time probate commissioner, who will be hired on an hourly basis without benefits, will be paid out of a family court fund within the circuit court budget, Harper said.















Friday, July 23, 2010

07232010 - News Article - MARK KIESLING: Magistrate's progress bears watching - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation




MARK KIESLING: Magistrate's progress bears watching
NWI Times

July 23, 2010 1:55 pm
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/mark-kiesling/mark-kiesling-magistrate-s-progress-bears-watching/article_e0de4138-01b6-5814-b7a5-d24cfcf2bf57.html

Maybe a backlog of 97 cases in one court doesn't sound like all that many, but it is if one of those cases is yours.

Judges in Porter County have acted to get some help for Magistrate James Johnson, and Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper might make a decision as soon as today about hiring a part-time probate commissioner for Johnson.

They've known about this problem for some time, but decided to act after some pesky reporters began asking questions recently about the work piling up on Johnson's desk.

Johnson's poor health was cited by Harper as a reason for the backlog, but the county's judges say he is now well enough to resume his duties and just needs some help cleaning house.

If your case is one of those 97 that is hanging fire, the news will be welcome. Johnson already has been able to pare that 97 to a number somewhere in the 80s.

What is also welcome, I guess, is that the money used to hire the temporary probate commissioner (who will not receive benefits) will not require any cash from taxpayers.

Rather, it will come out of a family fund already set up within the budget for the circuit court. I just hope that the cost is low enough that nothing that needs doing in other areas gets short-changed.

Porter County has at least acted well in advance of any serious problems, unlike a similar situation in Lake County several years ago when Criminal Court Judge Joan Kouros amassed an enormous backlog due to health problems, hundreds of cases of a criminal nature.

Johnson handles divorce, estate and guardianship cases, which also need to be settled in a timely, efficient manner.

The judges kept delaying taking the Kouros matter in hand, and it ended up with people being kept in jail who had been ordered released because of the paperwork backlog and sheer volume of work in that court.
The Indiana Supreme Court in 2004 ordered that Kouros be removed from the bench and that she also repay the state the more than $11,000 the four-year investigation cost.

Whether the Supreme Court or its Commission on Judicial Qualifications will investigate Johnson remains to be seen. A judge who knows he is amassing a backlog and waits for someone else to force help on him might need a little guidance from Indianapolis.

Nothing says Johnson should be removed from the bench for failure to perform his duty, but when he gets back to work maybe someone should look over his shoulder for a while.

The opinions are solely those of the writer.




07232010 - News Article - POLL - Should Porter County hire a temporary, part-time probate commissioner to assist Magistrate James Johnson - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Should Porter County hire a temporary, part-time probate commissioner to assist Magistrate James Johnson while he clears up the backlog of cases before him?
NWI Times

July 23, 2010 12:00 am
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/should-porter-county-hire-a-temporary-part-time-probate-commissioner/poll_7b51ef7b-aef8-55d6-8f29-23cfc4e5b519.html












07232010 - News Article - EDITORIAL: Speedy trials, speedy rulings - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



EDITORIAL: Speedy trials, speedy rulings
NWI Times
July 23, 2010 - 12:00 am
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-speedy-trials-speedy-rulings/article_f232649a-5c52-5a08-8792-edacacd378ea.html

Porter County's judges have come up with a plan to help Magistrate James Johnson clear up his enormous backlog of pending cases. They are proposing to hire a part-time probate commissioner to hear new cases.

Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper will hold a public hearing on that proposal at 11:30 a.m. today in her courtroom.

Depending on what surfaces at the public hearing today, the probate commissioner could be hired immediately -- meaning as soon as today.

This is a novel, but intriguing, way for Johnson to get caught up on those old cases.

The county's judges also would monitor Johnson's progress in clearing up those cases by Oct. 1.

As one of Porter County's two magistrates, Johnson deals with divorce, estate and guardianship cases.

At the end of June, Johnson had yet to rule on 97 cases, compared to just three before fellow magistrate Katherine Forbes.

The plan to hire a part-timer to allow Johnson to get caught up should be good news for the people awaiting his rulings. If their cases were assigned to another judge, they might have to go through the whole process all over again, making them go through the pain of appearing in court again, in some cases, and delaying justice even more than it already has been.

Johnson must work quickly to reduce that backlog so justice isn't delayed for the many people awaiting their rulings. He has had health issues, but the fact is that he just hasn't been able to get the job done in the time allotted.

This isn't just a matter of too much work for one person to accomplish. The county's other magistrate has been up to the task.

However, the probate commissioner must be temporary relief. What hiring that commissioner means is, in essence, that money is diverted from its intended purposes because of a county employee's inability to perform his duties in a timely manner.

For magistrates, as with any other employees, performance matters. It's either shape up or be shipped out.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications is reportedly investigating this situation, although the agency normally won't confirm any current investigations.

The Porter County judges' response in the meantime is a practical stop-gap solution.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

07222010 - News Article - Indiana magistrate to get help clearing case backlog - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Indiana magistrate to get help clearing case backlog
WTHR News
Updated: Jul 22, 2010 6:06 AM CDT
http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=12851293

Valparaiso - A northwest Indiana magistrate will get some help catching up on a backlog of court cases over the next few months.

A public hearing will be held Friday in Porter Circuit Court in Valparaiso on a proposal to hire a part-time probate commissioner to hear new cases scheduled before Magistrate James Johnson.

Johnson had 97 cases he had not yet ruled on by the end of June, compared with just three cases pending before another magistrate. Judge Mary Harper said Johnson's backlog since has been reduced to somewhere in the 80s.

Harper says Johnson's health contributed to the backlog.

Harper says the county's six judges will provide Johnson with a schedule to help him clear the backlog of cases by Oct. 1.




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

07212010 - Magistrate Johnson given October 1st deadline to clear backlog of divorce cases - Magistrate James Johnson Investigation


"The cases that Porter County Magistrate James Johnson has under advisement -- that are backlogged and waiting for decisions -- will be ruled on by Oct. 1."



Porter judges take stand
Post Tribune
July 21, 2010
http://infoweb.newsbank.com.proxy.portagelibrary.info/resources/doc/nb/news/1313D5A29C1456D8?p=AWNB

VALPARAISO -- The cases that Porter County Magistrate James Johnson has under advisement -- that are backlogged and waiting for decisions -- will be ruled on by Oct. 1.

That's according to a schedule set by the Porter County judges at a closed meeting Tuesday.

"We have established a plan and a schedule for having the magistrate rule on the under-advisements," said Judge Mary Harper of the Porter County Circuit Court. "He will address those cases on a steady, scheduled basis."

Porter County magistrates handle divorce, estate and other family cases. The six judges want Johnson to devote himself full-time to eliminating the backlog, so they are also looking to appoint a probate commissioner to assist with current cases.

"We agreed that we need to keep the business of the court current while the magistrate works on the backlog," Harper said.

As the county's Circuit Court Judge, Harper will preside over a public hearing Friday at 11:30 a.m. to determine if there's a need to appoint a probate commissioner. It was a matter all the judges agreed to.

"The probate commissioner status has been used before when there was a case overload," Harper said. "It's not in regard to Magistrate Johnson. It's in regard to getting the people's work done."

Johnson was a probate commissioner before becoming a magistrate, as was Katherine Ratliff Forbes in Superior Court 2 and Judge Jeffery Thode of Superior Court 6.

If a probate commissioner is determined to be needed, a person will be put in place promptly. Harper did not specify how prompt that would be.

The extent of Johnson's backlog became known in the second quarter report.

Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, noted on the report that "th

e dramatic increase in the magistrate's cases under advisement is due to the fact that the magistrate previously reported only cases taken under advisement during the quarter reported. The number now includes all cases the magistrate has under advisement."

Harper acknowledged that Johnson's health problems contributed to the cases under advisement. "He had serious heart problems for the last several years," she said.

Johnson also was recently ill over the winter because of those problems.

Although Johnson had 97 cases under advisement at the end of the second quarter in June, that backlog has been reduced to somewhere in the 80s, Harper said.



She also expressed respect for his work. "The man is good on the law. His decisions are generally upheld if appealed," she said. Magistrate James Johnson's backlog must be cleared by Oct. 1

07212010 - News Article - Porter judges take stand - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation




Porter judges take stand
Post Tribune
July 21, 2010
http://infoweb.newsbank.com.proxy.portagelibrary.info/resources/doc/nb/news/1313D5A29C1456D8?p=AWNB

VALPARAISO -- The cases that Porter County Magistrate James Johnson has under advisement -- that are backlogged and waiting for decisions -- will be ruled on by Oct. 1.

That's according to a schedule set by the Porter County judges at a closed meeting Tuesday.

"We have established a plan and a schedule for having the magistrate rule on the under-advisements," said Judge Mary Harper of the Porter County Circuit Court. "He will address those cases on a steady, scheduled basis."

Porter County magistrates handle divorce, estate and other family cases. The six judges want Johnson to devote himself full-time to eliminating the backlog, so they are also looking to appoint a probate commissioner to assist with current cases.

"We agreed that we need to keep the business of the court current while the magistrate works on the backlog," Harper said.

As the county's Circuit Court Judge, Harper will preside over a public hearing Friday at 11:30 a.m. to determine if there's a need to appoint a probate commissioner. It was a matter all the judges agreed to.

"The probate commissioner status has been used before when there was a case overload," Harper said. "It's not in regard to Magistrate Johnson. It's in regard to getting the people's work done."

Johnson was a probate commissioner before becoming a magistrate, as was Katherine Ratliff Forbes in Superior Court 2 and Judge Jeffery Thode of Superior Court 6.

If a probate commissioner is determined to be needed, a person will be put in place promptly. Harper did not specify how prompt that would be.

The extent of Johnson's backlog became known in the second quarter report.

Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, noted on the report that "th

e dramatic increase in the magistrate's cases under advisement is due to the fact that the magistrate previously reported only cases taken under advisement during the quarter reported. The number now includes all cases the magistrate has under advisement."

Harper acknowledged that Johnson's health problems contributed to the cases under advisement. "He had serious heart problems for the last several years," she said.

Johnson also was recently ill over the winter because of those problems.

Although Johnson had 97 cases under advisement at the end of the second quarter in June, that backlog has been reduced to somewhere in the 80s, Harper said.

She also expressed respect for his work. "The man is good on the law. His decisions are generally upheld if appealed," she said. Magistrate James Johnson's backlog must be cleared by Oct. 1

07212010 - News Article - Here comes the judge's backup help - Probate Commissioner will allow magistrate to focus on backlog - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



07212010 - News Article - Help to be brought in for magistrate - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Help to be brought in for magistrate
NWI Times
Bob Kasarda
July 21, 2010 12:00 am
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/help-to-be-brought-in-for-magistrate/article_03ad0379-af92-58a2-8f64-d87a6da423b6.html


VALPARAISO - The county's judges agreed Tuesday evening to seek assistance for Magistrate James Johnson so he can focus exclusively over the next couple of months on catching up with a large backlog of pending cases.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper said she intends to host a public hearing at 11:30 a.m. Friday in her courtroom on the proposal to hire a part-time probate commissioner to hear new cases scheduled before Johnson.

The probate commissioner could be hired as soon as Friday if nothing of concern surfaces during the required hearing, she said.

Johnson, in the meantime, will be provided with a weekly schedule designed to guide him through the backlog of cases by Oct. 1, Harper said. The county's six judges constantly will monitor his progress, she said.

"We think that's the fairest way to get these cases done," Harper said.

The action was taken in response to news that Johnson had 97 cases he had not yet ruled on by the end of June, as compared to just three cases pending before his fellow adult magistrate, Katherine Forbes.

Harper said Johnson's backlog since has been reduced to a number somewhere in the 80s.

The backlog reportedly has triggered a state investigation, though officials there will not comment.

This is not the first time the county has hired a probate commissioner to help ease a caseload, Harper said.

But it is the first time the approach has been used to help a magistrate catch up on cases under advisement.
While Johnson's poor health has contributed to the backlog of cases, Harper said she believes he now is doing well enough to resolve the problem.

Johnson has served as a magistrate since 1989. He and Forbes handle divorce, estate and guardianship cases.

The probate commissioner, who will be hired on an hourly basis without benefits, will be paid out of a family court fund within the circuit court budget, Harper said.






 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

07202010 - News Article - By a jury of his peers - Judges to weigh fate of magistrate - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



07202010 - News Article - Porter County judges to discuss magistrate's performance - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation




Porter County judges to discuss magistrate's performance
NWI Times
By Bob Kasarda
July 20, 2010 12:00 am
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/porter-county-judges-to-discuss-magistrate-s-performance/article_bb612889-d02f-59e9-993a-38bfd3a871a4.html
VALPARAISO - Porter County Magistrate Judge James Johnson had 97 cases he had not yet ruled on by the end of June, as compared to just three cases pending before his fellow adult magistrate, Katherine Forbes.

This backlog of cases reportedly has triggered both an investigation by the state and concern among county judges, who will meet behind closed doors tonight to discuss potential solutions.

The county's two adult magistrates handle divorce, estate and guardianship cases.

Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, explained in writing on the county's second quarter judicial report that the dramatic increase in cases under advisement resulted because Johnson had been reporting just those cases taken under advisement during that quarter alone.

The figure now represents the cumulative total of cases pending at the end of the quarter, he said.

It recently was revealed that the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating a complaint that Johnson is taking too long to decide cases.

Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan would not comment on or even confirm the investigation into Johnson's workload.

She said if the commission believes misconduct has occurred, it can file charges against a judge. The Supreme Court can respond by doing nothing or going so far as removing a judge from the bench.

Johnson ended the first quarter of this year with 332 divorce cases, 1,574 estate cases and 1,364 guardianship cases pending.

Forbes ended the same quarter with 293 divorce cases, 1,347 estate cases and 1,457 guardianship cases pending.





Friday, July 16, 2010

07162010 - Magistrate Johnson Investigation - FAX to Porter County Judges



To the best of my knowledge, the Porter County judges did not forward information contained in this FAX or the FAX itself onto the Indiana Judiciary Commission, who was investigating Magistrate Johnson at the time.

At no time, did any of the Porter County judges contact me, regarding my concerns of how Magistrate Johnson was handling my case.























































Wednesday, July 14, 2010

07142010 - Magistrate Johnson cancelled maintenance contempt hearing

My ex had failed to pay his maintence payments to me during the past eighteen months. Magistrate Johnson had not held my ex in contempt.

My ex had also failed to abide by the provisional order and had failed to pay my utilities, during the past two years. Johnson failed to hold my ex in contempt.

Due to my dire financial situation, brought on by my ex not paying the utilities or the maintenance, my attorney had filed for a hearing on the maintenance payments. The hearing was scheduled for July 14th. Magistrate Johnson cancelled the hearing on July 14th and did not reschedule it. My gas and electricity were turned off in September due to this move by Johnson.

Johnson cancelled this hearing one week after he had been temporarily removed from the bench by the Judiciary Commission and ordered to issue rulings in more than one-hundred divorce cases. I had been the one who had blown the whistle on Johnson for his failure to issue rulings [April 2010].













Magistrates failing to keep up with case loads
July 11, 2010 12:05 am
By Bob Kasarda
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/hebron/magistrates-failing-to-keep-up-with-case-loads/article_e0729ed8-59b7-526a-af76-b9137fce3e2f.html

VALPARAISO - Both of Porter County's adult court magistrate judges ended most of the last five quarters with more cases pending than when the quarters began, according to statistics compiled by the county court administrator's office.

The case loads peaked the first quarter of this year, which are the most recent figures available.

Magistrate James Johnson ended the first quarter of this year with 332 divorce cases, 1,574 estate cases and 1,364 guardianship cases pending.

Magistrate Katherine Forbes ended the same quarter with 293 divorce cases, 1,347 estate cases and 1,457 guardianship cases pending.

Johnson disposed of slightly more estate cases than Forbes over the last five quarters, while the reverse was true for divorce cases. Both the magistrates disposed of the same number of guardianship cases.

It was revealed last week that the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating a complaint that Johnson is taking too long in disposing cases.

While litigants and defendants are free to file such complaints, there are no definitive guidelines on how quickly civil or criminal case are to move through the legal system, said Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan.

There are time constraints in place for specific aspects of each case, she said, but there is room for flexibility depending on the unique needs of each situation.

"So there is no timeline," Dolan said.

Neither Johnson nor Forbes returned telephone calls for comment.

The Indiana Supreme Court ordered Lake County Judge Joan Kouros permanently removed from the bench effective February 2005 as a result of complaints she was too slow in completing routine paperwork, leading to stalled jail inmate transfers and then overcrowding in the county lockup.

A commission reviewing her court found a backlog of hundreds of cases awaiting her signature on decisions made months earlier.

Kouros was suspended for six months in 2003, reinstated in January 2004 after promising to improve and suspended again in July 2004 on grounds she'd failed to keep the promise.

Dolan would not comment on or even confirm the investigation into Johnson's work load. But she said if the commission believes misconduct has occurred, it can file charges against a judge.

The state Supreme Court responds by appointing a panel of five trial court judges to review the charges and make a recommendation back to the high court. The court is not bound by the recommendation, and can respond by doing nothing or going so far as removing a judge from the bench.

The identity of the person filing a complaint is provided to the targeted judge or magistrate, Dolan said.

Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester recently notified members of the county bar association of the allegations involving Johnson and invited the attorneys to apply for the magistrate position.

Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, said there is no need for anyone to send in a resume because there are no plans to replace Johnson.

The six Porter County judges are expected to discuss the issue during their next meeting July 20.

















My divorce attorney, John Rhame, never reported Magistrate Johnson's errors in my divorce case, during this investigation.

















Magistrate investigated on allegations of slow work flow
July 07, 2010 12:00 am
By Bob Kasarda
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/hebron/magistrate-investigated-on-allegations-of-slow-work-flow/article_e8e0e375-9cb9-5cb6-a49a-394253144da6.html


VALPARAISO - The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating a complaint that Porter County Magistrate Judge James Johnson is taking too long in processing cases, according to Superior Court Judge David Chidester.

Chidester notified members of the county bar association of the allegations by e-mail Friday and requested input from the attorneys.

While making it clear he is not speaking on behalf of the county's other five judges and has no idea what action he and the others will take when they discuss the investigation during their monthly meeting July 20, Chidester invited the attorneys to submit their resumes to his court. Those who wish to remain confidential were invited to send their resumes to a post office box in his name.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, said there is no need for anyone to send in a resume because there are no plans to replace Johnson.

Bradford declined to comment on the pending investigation so as not to violate disclosure rules used by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Johnson did not return calls for comment.

A call Tuesday to the commission was referred to Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan, who said investigations into alleged misconduct are confidential.

"If the commission believes misconduct has occurred it can file charges against a judge," she said. "Those charges are a matter of public record."

She would not confirm an investigation, but said Johnson currently is in good standing with the court and has not ever had a public discipline case.

A state judicial investigation can result in potential penalties ranging from a reprimand to removal, Chidester said.

The six local judges, who appoint two of the county's three magistrates, including Johnson, can take their own action, he said.

Chidester said he decided to notify bar members of the allegations to let them know what's going on, attempt to determine the scope of the alleged problem and seek resumes from those interested in the post.

He called on the Family Law Section of the bar association to meet and advise the judges if a problem exists and, if so, the extent of the problem and what should be done. He also reminded the attorneys of their obligation to report any negative impact on their clients caused by faulty caseload management by judges or magistrates.

Porter County Magistrates Johnson and Katherine Forbes handle divorce and estate cases.

The juvenile court magistrate is appointed by the circuit court judge.















Sunday, July 11, 2010

07112010 - News Article - County judges failing to keep up - Weak rules may allow court cases to linger - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation





07112010 - News Article - Magistrates failing to keep up with case loads - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Magistrates failing to keep up with case loads
July 11, 2010 12:05 am
By Bob Kasarda
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/hebron/magistrates-failing-to-keep-up-with-case-loads/article_e0729ed8-59b7-526a-af76-b9137fce3e2f.html

VALPARAISO - Both of Porter County's adult court magistrate judges ended most of the last five quarters with more cases pending than when the quarters began, according to statistics compiled by the county court administrator's office.

The case loads peaked the first quarter of this year, which are the most recent figures available.

Magistrate James Johnson ended the first quarter of this year with 332 divorce cases, 1,574 estate cases and 1,364 guardianship cases pending.

Magistrate Katherine Forbes ended the same quarter with 293 divorce cases, 1,347 estate cases and 1,457 guardianship cases pending.

Johnson disposed of slightly more estate cases than Forbes over the last five quarters, while the reverse was true for divorce cases. Both the magistrates disposed of the same number of guardianship cases.

It was revealed last week that the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating a complaint that Johnson is taking too long in disposing cases.

While litigants and defendants are free to file such complaints, there are no definitive guidelines on how quickly civil or criminal case are to move through the legal system, said Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan.

There are time constraints in place for specific aspects of each case, she said, but there is room for flexibility depending on the unique needs of each situation.

"So there is no timeline," Dolan said.

Neither Johnson nor Forbes returned telephone calls for comment.

The Indiana Supreme Court ordered Lake County Judge Joan Kouros permanently removed from the bench effective February 2005 as a result of complaints she was too slow in completing routine paperwork, leading to stalled jail inmate transfers and then overcrowding in the county lockup.

A commission reviewing her court found a backlog of hundreds of cases awaiting her signature on decisions made months earlier.

Kouros was suspended for six months in 2003, reinstated in January 2004 after promising to improve and suspended again in July 2004 on grounds she'd failed to keep the promise.

Dolan would not comment on or even confirm the investigation into Johnson's work load. But she said if the commission believes misconduct has occurred, it can file charges against a judge.

The state Supreme Court responds by appointing a panel of five trial court judges to review the charges and make a recommendation back to the high court. The court is not bound by the recommendation, and can respond by doing nothing or going so far as removing a judge from the bench.

The identity of the person filing a complaint is provided to the targeted judge or magistrate, Dolan said.


Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester recently notified members of the county bar association of the allegations involving Johnson and invited the attorneys to apply for the magistrate position.

Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, said there is no need for anyone to send in a resume because there are no plans to replace Johnson.

The six Porter County judges are expected to discuss the issue during their next meeting July 20.





Friday, July 9, 2010

07092010 - Ex's Facebook post - Ex's residence in Phoenix Arizona


Ex's Facebook page - July 09, 2010.

Without my ex having to provide the court with any financial documents, he was able to get away with not paying approximately $30,000 in maintenance payments to me. During a two year period of time [and just weeks prior to this FB posting], my ex repeatidly  took the stand and claimed that he was homeless...He was living in homeless shelters...And he had been fired from his semi-truck driving job at Dunkin Donuts.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, my ex was bragging on FB about his house : "Garret...come swim in our pool, don't forget to bring the spirits."











**********
Case Closed - Do Not Respond



It has been a long hard battle in my fight for justice for myself and for other victims in Porter County.  But, I cannot make officials do the right thing and I cannot make them care.

Instead, what I can do is take pride in the fact  that I did not waiver in my convictions; for standing up for what is right; and my endless efforts to correct a wrong.


It was Portage Police Chief Mark Becker who said, "Case closed", and Portage Mayor James Snyder who said, "Do not respond"...Not me.





video









































Wednesday, July 7, 2010

07072010 - News Article - Hand of justice deemed too slow - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation






07072010 - News Article - Magistrate investigated on allegations of slow work flow - Magistrate James Johnson judicial investigation



Magistrate investigated on allegations of slow work flow
July 07, 2010 12:00 am
NWI Times
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/hebron/magistrate-investigated-on-allegations-of-slow-work-flow/article_e8e0e375-9cb9-5cb6-a49a-394253144da6.html


VALPARAISO - The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating a complaint that Porter County Magistrate Judge James Johnson is taking too long in processing cases, according to Superior Court Judge David Chidester.

Chidester notified members of the county bar association of the allegations by e-mail Friday and requested input from the attorneys.

While making it clear he is not speaking on behalf of the county's other five judges and has no idea what action he and the others will take when they discuss the investigation during their monthly meeting July 20, Chidester invited the attorneys to submit their resumes to his court. Those who wish to remain confidential were invited to send their resumes to a post office box in his name.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson, said there is no need for anyone to send in a resume because there are no plans to replace Johnson.

Bradford declined to comment on the pending investigation so as not to violate disclosure rules used by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. Johnson did not return calls for comment.

A call Tuesday to the commission was referred to Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan, who said investigations into alleged misconduct are confidential.

"If the commission believes misconduct has occurred it can file charges against a judge," she said. "Those charges are a matter of public record."

She would not confirm an investigation, but said Johnson currently is in good standing with the court and has not ever had a public discipline case.

A state judicial investigation can result in potential penalties ranging from a reprimand to removal, Chidester said.

The six local judges, who appoint two of the county's three magistrates, including Johnson, can take their own action, he said.

Chidester said he decided to notify bar members of the allegations to let them know what's going on, attempt to determine the scope of the alleged problem and seek resumes from those interested in the post.

He called on the Family Law Section of the bar association to meet and advise the judges if a problem exists and, if so, the extent of the problem and what should be done. He also reminded the attorneys of their obligation to report any negative impact on their clients caused by faulty caseload management by judges or magistrates.

Porter County Magistrates Johnson and Katherine Forbes handle divorce and estate cases.

The juvenile court magistrate is appointed by the circuit court judge.