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Chief Justice Shepard Delivers 24th State of Judiciary

Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, in his annual State of the Judiciary speech Wednesday, outlined both challenges and changes affecting the state’s legal system.  The Chief Justice says some solutions may come as a result of computers and common sense.

In his 24th State of the Judiciary, Chief Justice Shepard said Indiana courts face many challenges – some new and some lasting.

“What do you do when somebody comes into the court speaking only Laotian? What can be done to cut the cost of litigation?  How do we deal with the phenomenon of jurors using smartphones,” Shepard asked.

Shepard said the state continues to expand its electronic case management system, with about half of the state’s counties now online.  Still, he asked for an increase in the case filing fee from $7 to $10, in order to pay for faster implementation of the system statewide.  Apart from technology, Shepard said the state has also benefited from simplifying instructions to jurors so they’re clearer -- like using less clinical language in explaining the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.

“Direct evidence than an animal ran in the snow might be the testimony of someone who actually saw the animal run in the snow.  Circumstantial evidence might be the testimony of someone who only saw the animal’s tracks in the snow,” he said.

Shepard also echoed a legislative priority of Governor Daniels – that the state reform its sentencing structure and ensure that only those people who need to be imprisoned wind up in jail, rather than with a diversionary sentence.

For a full video of the speech, visit the Supreme Court's website.

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