Jury trials down in Vigo Co, Indiana post criminal code reform

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHI) – The Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court said the court has always stood for a defendant’s right to a jury trial.  This comment comes in light of statistics that show a statewide drop in jury trials. Vigo County also reflects this same trend.

In 2014 and 2015, Indiana saw about a 17% decrease in the number of jury trials held (both criminal and civil). Vigo County held only 17 jury trials last year, its lowest total since 2010.  So far in 2016, only 11 jury trials have been held in in Vigo County. Rush says more civil cases avoid trial because of remediation. She says more data is needed before the court can accurately tell how the criminal code reform impacts jury trials, or the lack thereof.

“Are we seeing more guilty pleas because of criminal code reform?” she rhetorically asked reporters.

Chief Justice Rush also addressed public online access to court records, and whether she anticipates more court records will be made available online in the near future.  The short answer is yes, though it’s too soon to tell which types of records will be published.

“I believe we will be one of the most transparent states in the country as we roll things out,” said Rush.

A public access task force will meet next year about five times, making a list of what documents should be online. Rush says the court wants to roll out these documents slowly in an effort to balance privacy rights with transparency.

Click here to see statewide statistics, as well as county records. Click here to search for cases by name, cause number, etc.