(UNDATED) - The slumping economy is even making its presence felt in the courts. That's the word from Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard in his state of the judiciary address.
Shepard says child and spousal abuse cases are rising as the economy sinks, thanks to the added pressure on families. He says the surge underlines the importance of the state's new electronic notification system to tell police when protective orders are issued. All but 20 counties are part of that network now, with St. Joseph, Jackson and Ohio joining in the last week: Shepard's offering the assistance of judges and the state's roster of volunteer lawyers to help negotiate deals to avert foreclosure.
And he says judges are looking for ways to help with the state budget crunch -- they've already declined a pay raise scheduled for this year.
Shepard says the courts are saving money through computerization that speeds up the processing of tax warrants, the writing of traffic tickets, and the notification of the BMV when traffic cases are settled. The latter change will keep Indiana from losing $34-million dollars in federal highway funds.
Shepard made no mention of the report he co-authored with former governor Joe Kernan on ways to streamline local government.
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