ANDERSON, Ind. — A recent motion by the State of Indiana has a local judge concerned about what it could mean for communities like Madison County.
The motion, which would require the county to pay for court expenses related to cases involving inmates incarcerated in Madison County Department of Correction centers, has Judge Dennis Carroll so concerned that he’s issued an order for the motion to be refuted.
“Let’s say, for example, there’s an inmate from Fort Wayne and another from Evansville. Both of them committed their crime outside Madison County, but if they commit a crime while in Pendleton [Correctional Facility], their court costs, including an appeal, would have to be covered by the folks in Madison County,” Carroll said.
According to Carroll, that’s unfair.
This issue was first brought to his attention after a 2012 trial that found inmate Jeffrey Cook, originally of Randolph County, guilty of murdering a fellow inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Court 6, which Carroll oversees, sent the bill for Cook’s public defender to the state auditor, as it has for years. The motion returned by the auditor basically says the state shouldn’t have to pay the expense.
Carroll responded by pointing to an Indiana code that indicates the state is responsible for “all costs of trial.”
“I think that should be interpreted broadly. The attorney general is taking it narrowly. But it’s been done like this for years,” the judge said.
The issue is now back in the hands of the auditor’s office, which has 30 days to pay the bill or send it to court for review. Carroll, who said he has support from Judge David Happe and other justices, issued the order on June 17, so he should have his answer this week. If the courts accept the auditor’s position, Madison County will be stuck with the bill in Cook’s case and other similar cases involving non-native inmates. Not only that, but it could lead to an interpretation that sticks the county with pretrial hearing costs and appeal expenses. How much is that?