Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

February 7, 2014

Plenty of cases for city court

(Continued)

Fifty-four defendants failed to comply with the trial rules so judgments of default were entered by the court.

Eight infractions were diverted by the judge. He explains, “Under Indiana law, the county prosecutor, when an infraction occurs (such as no seat belt, speeding or running a stop sign) can choose to divert” it if the person has a clean record. The defendant signs an agreement with the prosecutor, admitting guilt. He or she pays a fine and court costs and must stay out of trouble for a time period. If that happens, the diverted case will get dismissed.

Two persons charged with infractions admitted they were guilty, according to the report.

By far the majority of city court cases, 329 involving infractions and ordinance violations, were handled through a violations bureau. In Batesville, that's clerk Debbie Krause. According to the report, “a defendant makes an admission, pleads nolo contendere (Latin for “I do not wish to contest”) or pays a fine ... through the clerk” or mail rather than in court.

Twenty failed to appear or failed to pay for infractions.

Four civil cases were closed that year, most likely due to bankruptcies.

The local court spent $81,538 in 2012, $7,562 less than its $89,100 budget approved by the city council. Almost 93 percent of that was on wages and benefits. Salary expenditures totalled $75,295: $23,547 for the part-time judge's salary, $33,342 for the full-time clerk's pay and $18,406 for her benefits.

Expenses that included $2,407, rentals and technology; $1,446, miscellaneous; $1,200, other services; $500, postage; $405, printing; and $285, supplies; totalled up to $6,243.

While defendants paying fines may think the local court keeps all the dollars, that's not true. The judge reports, “A significant portion of the money we collect has to be turned over to the state of Indiana.”

Of all the fees and costs collected, Krause estimates about 20 percent goes to the counties, about 25 percent to the city and 55 percent to the state to fund Indiana State Police, highways, the general fund and other projects.

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