Indiana Court Records
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How Does the Indiana Town Court Work?
Indiana Town Courts are limited jurisdiction courts established in compliance with Indiana Code § 33–35 to hear matters related to town ordinances. Indiana Town Courts typically have jurisdiction over the following types of cases:
- Cases involving all violations of a town’s ordinances (town courts have exclusive jurisdiction over these types of cases)
- Cases involving misdemeanor offenses and infractions
In addition, a Town Court also has jurisdiction over the ordinances of a town with whom it has entered into an interlocal agreement. Interlocal agreements can be reached by two towns located in the same judicial circuit in situations where one town has established a Town Court, and the other has not. Counties can also enter interlocal agreements with a Town Court located within it. Here, the ordinance violations that would otherwise have fallen under the jurisdiction of another court fall under the jurisdiction of the contracted Town Court.
Indiana Town Courts are headed by judges. The state’s judicial system currently has over 20 Town Courts. With the exclusion of judges elected before July 1, 2015, Town Court judges are required to be attorneys of good standing that have been admitted into the practice of law in the state of Indiana. Judges are also required to be residents of the town at the time of the election into the position. Indiana Town Court judges are elected in partisan elections by eligible voters of the town where the court is located. Elected judges serve a four-year term, and these judges may seek re-election for successive terms. However, a Town Court judge must retire from office at the age of 75. Town Court judges have some powers and responsibilities which include, but are not limited to:
- Adopting rules necessary for conducting the business of the court
- Compelling the attendance of witnesses where necessary
- Punishing individuals found in contempt of court
- Enforcing court orders
- Issuing commissions for taking depositions in matters that are pending in the court
- Administering oaths
- Providing all necessary certificates required for the authentication of court records and proceedings
Under some circumstances, an Indiana Town Court judge may be temporarily absent or unable to act. When this happens, the judge shall appoint a reputable practicing attorney to act as a special judge. This special judge has all the powers of the Town Court judge and will be required to perform all the judges’ duties for the duration of the appointment.
Indiana Town Courts are not courts of records. Trials are held in the absence of a jury, but defendants have the right to demand a trial by jury. The length of time it takes for a disposition to be reached in an Indiana Town Court varies by court and town and is usually dependent on the type of case being heard. However, judgments issued by this court can be appealed. Since Town Courts are not courts of record, appeals are directed to either a Circuit, Superior, or Probate Court, where the case is tried de novo (tried from the beginning without reference to the decision issued by the Town Court). Note that appeals must be filed not more 30 days after the judgment is issued.
Interested persons can obtain court records for cases heard in Indiana Town Courts online via the Indiana judicial system’s case search website, or in person at the Town Court where the case was filed. Parties that wish to utilize the case search website will be required to provide names of the parties involved in the case or the case number. In-person requests for court records can be made at the office of the Court Clerk at the appropriate court.
Indiana Town Courts can be contacted via the following information: