Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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
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.

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