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How do Indiana Courts work?

The Supreme Court is the highest legal authority in the state of Indiana, which gives it the power to oversee and check all decisions made by the Court of Appeals. For example, The Supreme Court may weigh in on important legal conflicts, questions, and precedents when needed. In turn, the Court of Appeals then carries out a similar function over lesser courts in the state of Indiana, reviewing a decision once one party decides to appeal. These lower courts come in the form of the 92 superior or trial courts across Indiana’s 92 counties. Other tiers of court include, Tax court, Circuit Courts, Probate Court, Small Claims Courts, City Courts, and Town Courts.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

Civil courts and small claims courts in Indiana deal with very different cases and different amounts of money. Unsurprisingly, small claims court deals with the lower value claims, namely cases in which the petitioner is seeking $6,000 or under. This value is extended to $8,000 for Marion County only. There are close to 150,000 of these claims filed each and every year across Indiana. The cases themselves can include disputes over loans, payments, repairs, deposits, warranties, and much more, as long as the figure remains below $6,000. The small claims court can also order a defendant to, for example, repay an amount owed. On the other hand, the civil court deals with cases in which the claimant is looking for over $200,000. There are around 175,000 of these cases filed each year across Indiana. However, they can include non-monetary cases such as disputes over name changes, restraining orders, and property.

Appeals and court limits

As these two different courts deal with very different cases, the appeals processes and the court limits also differ. Small claims courts do not allow pretrial discovery, although civil courts do. Similarly, the civil courts also allow a person to hire a lawyer to represent them and file papers on their behalf, but small claims court does not allow either of these things. Only the defendant can appeal a decision made in small claims court, but either party can appeal in civil court. Small claims court charges between $30 and $100 per claim for cases, while civil court charges between $180 and $320. The small claims courts then give each party 30-70 days to complete their cases, while civil court allows up to 120 days.

Why are court records public?

In 1980, the state introduced the Indiana Access to Public Records Act, with changes coming later in 2003. This act was brought in to ensure that all residents in the state have the fundamental right to access all public records. Whether these records are held by the local or state government, members of the public in Indiana may access and copy them. This promotes transparency and safeguards government accountability.

To access records:

Address:

Indiana Supreme Court
315 Indiana State House
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 232-2540
Fax: (317) 232-8372

 

Indiana Court Structure
Indiana State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (765) 347-7705

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

Indiana

Indiana’s LaPorte County Courthouse was built between 1871 and 1874.

  • Indiana has 9 different court types. These are the Supreme Court, the Tax Court, the Court of Appeals, the Superior Court, the Circuit Court, the Probate Court, the City Court, the Town Court, and the Small Claims Court of Marion County.
  • The Supreme Court of Indiana was established in 1816. They have 5 judicial positions, each with a 10 year term of service.
  • The second chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court was Isaac Blackford, who is one of the longest serving justices in the country. He served from 1817 to 1853. 
  • The Indiana Court of Appeals replaced the then temporary Indiana Appellate Court in 1972. Before that, congress voted to make the Appellate Court permanent in 1901. 

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