Judge to Ballard rep: We decide where courts go

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Marion Superior judges on Friday gave a grudging endorsement to the former General Motors stamping plant site as the location for a proposed criminal justice complex, but not before sending a message to Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard that where courts are located is their decision.

Ballard senior policy adviser Kurt Fulbeck made a brief presentation to the Marion Superior Executive Committee on Friday during which he asked for the judges’ recommendation of a preferred site. Ballard prefers the GM site, but the city has left open the possibility of a site at Indianapolis International Airport near the Hendricks County line.

“Who do you think makes the ultimate decision on this?” Marion Superior Judge James Osborn asked. Fulbeck responded the City-County Council and project shareholders.

“With regard to where the courts are located,” Osborn said, “that’s our decision. … Nobody gets to tell us where to go.” Osborn said he was reluctant to offer an endorsement because he said he didn’t want to suggest the courts were ceding their authority.

But the executive committee did vote to express a formal preference for the former GM site over the airport. Marion Superior criminal judges earlier this week viewed a presentation on the project but withheld their comments during the public portion of the meeting.

“I think everyone said we don’t want to go to the airport,” Judge John Chavis said of the judges’ views of the two sites.

Executive Committee chairman Judge David Certo emphasized that point as the committee considered its preference: “We’re not interested in pursuing the airport site.”

City officials have made numerous presentations in recent days to neighborhood groups and stakeholders on the proposal. Another public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in the public assembly room of the City-County Building.

The project announced in December is expected to cost as much as $400 million and would consolidate the Marion County jail, Superior Court criminal division, and prosecutor, public defender, probation and other related functions.

This story first appeared in IBJ sister publication The Indiana Lawyer.


  • $$$$
    Yeah, sure. Let the judges decide where they think they want to be. And then let them figure out how to build it and pay for it if the Ballard Administration and/or the City County Council decide not to fund it. I don't think the judges have the ultimate authority here, no matter what they think.
  • Judges Do As they please
    Not in favor of a dictator telling the people what is going to happen BUT someone must be the leader and take the steps necessary to get things done. The Mayor is the one that must account for the funds to build what the Judges want. The Judges, for the most part, do as they please any way and complain about the conditions they work in and now complain when someone wants to improve where they work. What difference does it make where the Judges are located when they release the criminals to continue their criminal ways. While the Mayor, Public Safety Director and Chief of Police continue to try to figure out how Indianapolis now has 2 of the top 25 most crime ridden neighborhoods in the country, why not look no further than the Judges that freely release prisoners without rhyme or reason. Law enforcement catch and Judges release, citizens pay !
  • Not so simple
    It's not as simple as you all are suggesting. The relevant statute does appear to give the Marion Superior Courts power to decide where in the county they will hear cases outside the City-County Building. But that power is conferred by statute, so it seems the GA could take it away.
  • Wrong Indyman
    couldn't be more wrong Indyman...thank heavens there is a branch you can appeal to when the delusional executive and legislative branches think they can do whatever bidding their political contributors demand of them...it is the last refuge and I am glad the Judge reminded the Chief Executive (if anyone, he is the dictator, not the Judge) and put others on notice of the constitutional requirement to properly provide for the system of courts, which are the last refuge for those who have been wronged (unfortunately, they are also a refuge for a lot of folks seeking a payday, etc, but with the good comes the bad). Let's see you get accused of a crime Indyman...bet you want your day in court then...
  • Wrong
    No fan of Ballard, but the judges cannot be more wrong. Judges are slaves to the legislators. Judges do not set policy. Judges go where legislators tell them. Judges aren't allowed to write their own checks or sign their own leases. Judges aren't allowed to levy and collect their own taxes, so they're bound to accept whatever the rest of the government hands them.
  • Judges
    The Mayor has no authority over the judges who are separately elected. He has no authority to tell them where their courtroom will be. As far as the suggestion of "light rail" to either the airport location or the GM stamping plant, that's not an option. Light rail is extremely expensive and Indianapolis does not have the density for it. The legislature rejected light rail for the NE corridor of the city and that's one place where there is some (but not enough) density.
  • The Judges Are The Ultimate Authority On The Courts
    Indyman, your personal beliefs aside, the law gives the judges the sole authority to decide where their courts are located. And if you disagree, you can, oh yes, appeal to the courts---good luck with that. The judge is simply stating a truth.
  • Transportation
    Since I don't think any law firms will leave their downtown offices and many private citizens need to visit the judicial offices, there will need to be some type of mass transit build to support a new location. Not broken down bus system we have. Extending a light rail system to the GM site is a lot less costly than to the airport location.
  • Its unfortunate the judges think they are the ultimate authority. I guess they forget who they work for. Talk about dictators. It might be good to shake them up with a little voter revolt.
    • It's About Time
      FINALLY!! Someone with proper authority reminds Mayor Marine that he is an elected official, not a dictator.... I think the GM site will work great for this, and it won't prohibit other development there....

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