Courts

A Statement on Race and Equity 

From the St. Joseph Circuit, Superior, and Probate Courts

On June 5, 2020, Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush issued the “Statement on Race and Equity”. Her statement requires that all courts ensure equal justice to persons of color in matters across the legal system. It is a recognition that we, as the judiciary, can and must do better. It is a call to action.

This Statement is the response of the state courts serving St. Joseph County to the mandate set forth by the Chief Justice. It is our call to action. It is our pledge to stand with the Chief Justice and commit to doing better, and improving justice to persons of color.

We strive for fairness. We will not be complicit in perpetuating the bias and inequity that are carved in our nation’s history. We hear the voices that cry out in our streets and towns.

  • We will train ourselves on implicit bias and educate ourselves about racial disparities in the judicial system. We encourage all attorneys and others in the judicial system, including law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, probation, and other local agencies (hereafter, “stakeholders”) to do the same.
  • We will promote a collaborative model of justice, consistent with the Chief Justice’s aim of fostering legitimacy among those who might feel shut out; informing and reforming those who might otherwise abuse power; and promoting real, tangible conversations about our community’s most pressing needs and issues. We will promote tangible discussions and forums for our community to address pressing needs and issues.
  • Our courts will be a place that victims of biased hatred and racism can rely on. We will treat these victims with dignity and encourage stakeholders to do the same.
  • We are a part of a system of laws that hold those who stoke the fires of hate and racism accountable and we will discharge our obligation without fear of recrimination.
  • We will improve the pathway for more people of color to become lawyers, judges, and in leading positions with our stakeholders. We recognize that when citizens see themselves, their experiences, and their backgrounds in lawyers and judges, the public gains trust and understanding.
  • We will show fairness and compassion to families affected by poverty, and we will protect the disadvantaged and vulnerable, no matter their color.
  • We recognize children in the court system must have access to justice and receive fair treatment. Although children of color may have received more punishment and harsher treatment than their white counterparts, we are committed to make sure disparate treatment does not happen.

In our quest to achieve these goals, we encourage our stakeholders to make similar commitments.

 SIGNED BY: 

Elizabeth C. Hurley
Chief Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court
John E. Broden
Judge, St. Joseph Circuit Court
Jason Cichowicz
Judge, St. Joseph Probate Court
David C. Chapleau
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court
Cristal C. Brisco
Magistrate, St. Joseph Circuit Court
Ashley M. Colborn
Magistrate, St. Joseph Probate Court
Steven L. Hostetler
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court
Andre B. Gammage
Magistrate, St. Joseph Circuit Court
Graham C. Polando
Magistrate, St. Joseph Probate Court
Jenny Pitts Manier
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court
William L. Wilson
Magistrate, St. Joseph Circuit Court
Aric Rutkowski
Magistrate, St. Joseph Probate Court
John M. Marnocha
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court

Barbara J. Johnston
Referee, St. Joseph Probate Court
Jane Woodward Miller
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court


Margot F. Reagan
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court


Jeffrey L. Sanford
Judge, St. Joseph Superior Court


Keith C. Doi
Magistrate, St. Joseph Superior Court


Elizabeth A. Hardtke
Magistrate, St. Joseph Superior Court


Paul E. Singleton
Magistrate, St. Joseph Superior Court


Julie P. Verheye
Magistrate, St. Joseph Superior Court


Courthouse 2- Traffic & Misdemeanor Division and Small Claims Division

As the Traffic and Misdemeanor and Small Claims Divisions of the St. Joseph County Courts begin to transition into in-person court operations, all persons with cases pending in the Court, their counsel and members of the public need to be aware that the re-opening of the 1855 Courthouse/Courthouse 2 is not a return to the schedules that were in place prior to the Covid-19 virus emergency declaration by Governor Holcomb.

The transition back to in-person operations has been guided by maintaining public safety in the courthouse.  A copy of the transition plan approved by Chief Judge Elizabeth Hurley of the St. Joseph Superior Court is posted above.

Hearing times have been changed times in the Traffic and Misdemeanor Division of the Court for cases scheduled in June 2020. Notices are being mailed to all Defendants by regular/electronic mail. The notice will be mailed to the Defendant or to their attorney. Defendants represented by an attorney should contact their attorney with any questions.  If a defendant is not represented by an attorney, he or she can go to the mycase.in.gov website and look up the information on the case by inputting their name and birth date or their case number into the search toolbar.

The Small Claims Court is reducing the number of cases that will be heard in each time slot throughout the day.  Again, notices are being sent by regular/electronic mail to all parties or their attorneys of any case rescheduling. Litigants in Small Claims Court should contact their attorney or go to the mycase.in.gov website to see if a scheduling change has been made in their case.

Arrive at the time assigned for your small claims or traffic and misdemeanor case.  Any early arrivals will be required to wait outside the building.   No one other than the parties or witnesses to the case will be admitted, without court permission. Do not bring children to Court, unless a child is a witness in a court proceeding.   The courtrooms have been marked to maintain 6 ft. distancing.  Floors are marked to show entry and exit directions.  Hand sanitizers are available. 

The Court is following the directives of the St. Joseph County Health Department requiring face masks in public places.  Any person who has a court appearance or other business to conduct in the courthouse must wear a face mask.  Persons without a face mask however will not be turned away and will be offered a mask or may be permitted to conduct their business in an alternative manner.

If further changes are required in court operations due to the Covid-19 virus, the St. Joseph County Judiciary is committed to keeping all persons with business before the Courts informed.  The best source of information is to monitor your case on the mycase.in.gov website and the sjcindiana.com website for updates on court operations.