Circuit Court here dealt blow

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The possibility of Switzerland County getting its own Circuit Court was dealt a serious setback last Thursday, February 7th, when the Indiana State Senate Judiciary Committee amended House Bill 1096.

The amended bill took everything out of HB 1096 that would have cost the State of Indiana money – including the creation of the Judicial Circuit here.

If the circuit had been created, Switzerland County would have had its own judge, which would have eliminated the sharing of a circuit court judge and a prosecuting attorney with Jefferson County; and the sharing of a superior court judge with Ohio County.

There would have simply been a Judge of the Switzerland County Court, and there would have also been a prosecuting attorney dealing with Switzerland County only.

State Representative Bob Bischoff, who is a sponsor of House Bill 1096, was in attendance at last Thursday night’s Switzerland County-Lawrenceburg boys basketball game, and said that there is still a chance that the language could be added back into the bill when it goes to a conference committee.

When different versions of the same bill pass the House and the Senate, the two versions are then assigned to a conference committee, which goes through and develops a compromise version of the bill, which is then returned to the House and Senate for approval.

Since the House version of the bill includes the language creating the Switzerland County Court – along with other measures that were also taken out of House Bill 1096, there will be a need for a conference committee to look at the bill.

The representative said that he is hopeful that the conference committee will see fit to put the creation of the judicial circuit back into the final draft of the conference committee bill.

Even if the language is reinserted, the delay will make for an interesting primary election here.

Currently, there are three declared candidates for the position of Judge of the Ohio-Switzerland County Superior Court – a post currently held by Judge John Mitchell.

Switzerland County attorneys Greg Coy and Lisa Rosenberger, along with Rising Sun attorney Lane Siekman, have filed for the post.

If the language stays out of the bill, then all three will face off in the May Democratic primary, with the winner moving on to the November general election.

Nothing’s changed from past years.

But, if after the deadline for filing for the primary passes, the language is reinserted into the bill, then technically there will no longer be an Ohio-Switzerland County Superior Court – so the primary election will be moot.

Greg Coy and Lisa Rosenberger would then be vying for the post of Judge of the Switzerland County Court; while Lane Siekman would no longer have a judgeship to run for.

If the language is included again, the Dearborn County Circuit would appoint a magistrate to handle cases in Ohio County, so it is possible that Lane Siekman could be appointed to that position.