Merrillville Town Court shuts the book on new civil cases

2012-10-18T10:16:00Z 2012-10-18T22:42:04Z Merrillville Town Court shuts the book on new civil casesChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
October 18, 2012 10:16 am  • 

MERRILLVILLE | Civil cases have put a strain on Merrillville's Town Court and — as a result — no new civil cases will be accepted.

Merrillville Town Court Judge Gina Jones said judgments in civil cases the last several years, and people associated with civil cases are constantly pulling resources from the Town Court.

Instead of seeking a larger staff to handle operations of the civil division, Jones decided the Town Court will will address the situation by not taking new civil cases.

"I think this is a solid move," Town Administrator Howard Fink said.

Jones said Merrillville isn't closing its civil division, and it will continue to hear existing civil cases.

Town Council President Shawn Pettit said Jones has the authority to hire additional employees if there is room in the Town Court budget. Jones said there isn't sufficient funding.

"That budget is really tight," Fink said.

Jones said a $139 fee is charged when civil cases are filed, and it's the only fee associated with civil cases. Merrillville Town Court can't increase the fee or charge new fees for services the court provides for civil cases, she said.

Fink said many civil cases filed in Merrillville Town Court aren't from Merrillville residents.

Jones said some Town Court systems in other municipalities don't have a civil division, so cases from other communities have been filed in Merrillville.

Although Merrillville Town Court isn't taking new civil cases, residents can file civil cases in Lake County's court system.

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