Porter County magistrate resigns amid case backlog
May 24, 2011
VALPARAISO - A Porter County magistrate who had amassed a large backlog of cases has tendered his resignation.
Magistrate James Johnson will stop hearing cases at the end of this week and will officially retire Aug. 1, said Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, who supervises Johnson. Johnson will use that time to clear the cases, Bradford said.
Johnson's backlog of cases came to light in July 2010 when the courts reported he had 97 cases he had not yet ruled on. A part-time probate commissioner was hired to help clear the backlog.
Bradford on Tuesday said the situation with Johnson's cases had improved for some time, but he had fallen behind again. Bradford did not disclose the number of cases pending currently before Johnson, but he did say it was not as high the 97 cases reported last summer.
Johnson is one of Porter County's two adult magistrates who handle divorce, estate and guardianship cases.
Johnson, 64, is a 1974 graduate of the Valparaiso University School of Law and served as a deputy public defender and deputy prosecutor. He was appointed as Porter County probate commissioner in April 1989 and became a magistrate in 1995.
Bradford said the selection process for Johnson's replacement will be decided at a June 14 meeting of all the Porter County judges.