Attorneys for Board of Commissioners Attorneys for Hon. Ronald
of Tippecanoe County and the E. Melichar
Tippecanoe County Council
Michael A. Wukmer Karl L. Mulvaney
Myra C. Selby Phil L. Isenbarger
Melanie E. Harris Nana Quay-Smith
Indianapolis, Indiana Candace L. Sage
David W. Luhman
Douglas J. Masson
Attorneys for Amicus Curiae, Indiana
Association of County Commissioners
Stanley C. Fickle
Attorney for Amicus Curiae, Association
of Indiana Counties, et al.
Jo Angela Woods
IN THE INDIANA SUPREME COURT
) IN THE MATTER OF COURTHOUSE ) Supreme Court Cause No. SECURITY IN TIPPECANOE COUNTY ) 79S00-0109-MF-405 ) ________________________________________________________________________Cause No. 79C01-0012-MI-43
REVIEW OF A TRIAL RULE 60.5 MANDATE PROCEEDING The Honorable Raymond D. Kickbush, Special Judge
April 12, 2002
Indiana Trial Rule 60.5 establishes procedures by which intra-county disagreements about court funding may be resolved. We have also held that the procedures of that rule apply to orders of mandate relating to things other than court funding. See Board of Commrs of Crawford County v. Riddle, 493 N.E.2d 461, 462 (Ind. 1986). In this instance, those procedures have been invoked in a dispute about courthouse security in Tippecanoe County.
The Tippecanoe County Courthouse is used predominantly for court-related functions. Perhaps as many as a thousand people enter and leave the courthouse on a daily basis. Incidents over the past several years have made courthouse security a topic of concern in Tippecanoe County. See footnote Certain courthouse security measures were implemented by the Board of Commissioners of Tippecanoe County and the Tippecanoe County Council (collectively, Commissioners). However, the Honorable Ronald E. Melichar, Judge of the Tippecanoe Circuit Court, disagreed with the adequacy of the Commissioners plan.
When efforts toward a negotiated settlement of the dispute surrounding courthouse security failed, Judge Melichar issued an order of mandate expressly directing how access to the courthouse should be controlled, including instructions on how many entrances to the courthouse should be kept open and who should be permitted to bypass security.
As provided in Trial Rule 60.5, we appointed a special judge to conduct
a trial on the merits of the mandate order. After the trial,
the special judge entered a final decree documenting his fact-finding and conclusions.
The decree does not become effective until reviewed by the Supreme Court unless
that review is waived. Ind. Trial Rule 60.5(B). The Commissioners declined
to waive review and in due course the matter was fully briefed before
The special judges decree overturned and modified the mandate order in significant part, concluding that some of Judge Melichars directives exceeded his authority. See footnote That decree is the subject of our review.
The decree provides that so long as proper security is placed at each
open entrance, the number of entrances is a matter for the Commissioners to
decide. The decree notes that the county Sheriff is primarily responsible for
preserving order in the courthouse.
See Ind. Code § 36-2-13-5(a)(6). The
decree states that each entrance with public access shall have a metal detector
through which persons entering the courthouse shall pass. The decree further notes
that it is the responsibility of the Sheriff to supervise his deputies, to
determine whether additional security measures should be employed, and to create special rules
for the transportation of prisoners and for the screening of governmental employees.
In sum, the special judges decree directs that metal detectors and security staff
be put in place at as many public entrances to the courthouse as
the Commissioners think appropriate to keep open. The operation and management of
those security points is noted as being the responsibility of the Sheriff.
We would expect that the Sheriff would continue to work, as always, with
the local judiciary to understand and address their particularized security concerns.
While this case was being briefed, the Commissioners were granted leave to supplement
the record with documents demonstrating that they have now voluntarily complied with the
decree. The Commissioners closed six of the eight entrances to the
courthouse, installed x-ray screening equipment at both entrances, and allocated funding for five
additional bailiffs to assist with entrance security. These developments would seem to
render moot any controversy between the parties. The Commissioners nevertheless assert that
review by this Court is still warranted because: (1) the case involves separation
of powers issues of great public importance; and (2) the decree lacks the
flexibility necessary to account for future changes in circumstances. We address this
latter issue first.
The mandate decree already incorporates a reasonable degree of flexibility. Moreover, we
perceive no reason why the decree might not be subject to modification if
warranted by changed circumstances. The appointment of the special judge was made
pursuant to Trial Rules 60.5 and 79(K). Trial Rule 79(L) gives the
special judge continuing jurisdiction over this matter.
As to the former point, separation of powers issues can be weighty and
courthouse security is an important topic. However, we see no out-of-the-ordinary separation
of powers issues in need of resolution here. As in every
case of this nature, the central issues are whether a mandate is reasonably
necessary for the operation of the court or court-related functions and if so,
are any specific fiscal or other governmental interests so severely and adversely affected
as to require that the order be set aside. Morgan Circuit Court
v. Morgan County Council, 550 N.E.2d 1303, 1304 (Ind. 1990). On review,
we will sustain the judgment if it is supported by substantial evidence of
probative value. Id.
In this instance, the Commissioners have demonstrated that compliance with the decree is
fiscally achievable without adverse consequences. We presume that since they took these
measures on their own initiative, they ultimately concluded that these steps were reasonably
necessary. The cooperation and attention given to the issue of security by
the Commissioners have mooted the need for more detailed review of the special
judges decree. As already noted, the special judge retains jurisdiction to act on
motion from either party. We also affirm the unchallenged directives of the
special judge regarding the payment of attorneys fees in this case.
All Justices concur.