Circuit judges ask to raise charge for filing lawsuits

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Filing lawsuits — from criminal cases to divorces — could become more expensive with changes effected by an altered state law.

Meeting Monday, members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors said they had received a letter from the two circuit court judges asking for activation of a special fund made up of an extra $2 fee on complaints filed in their courts and chancery and county courts to be used to pay down expenses for court administrators. The law also allows county boards to accept gifts, donations or federal funds to benefit the administrators, who handle the dockets and most other paperwork.

The special fund could pay for equipment, furniture, office supplies and anything justifiable as an expense.

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The board isn’t compelled to accept the request, as is the case with a court order.

Supervisors said they’d consider it among the reams of other funding requests as they appear poised to raise property taxes at least a little to offset lower personal property appraisals this year.

They expect to adopt a budget Sept. 4 after a public hearing.

The letter was sent last week, after each circuit judge had made formal budget requests to the board.

Circuit Judge M. James Chaney requested a $3,000 raise for his administrator, which would bring annual salary to $54,000. Annual pay for Judge Isadore Patrick’s administrator was raised to that level via court order in January.

On July 1, rates went up by $40 to file civil cases in chancery and circuit court, including divorces and eminent domain. Previously, those had ranged $55 to $95. Most common filing fees charged by circuit clerks range from $1 to $125.