Makris: A Family Lawyer’s Guide to the Community Justice Center
With the opening of the new Marion County Community Justice Center, there have been many exciting improvements to the courtroom experience. While the move of the City-County Building marks the nostalgic end of an era, the CJC offers modern and innovative features that will serve as invaluable assets to the family law attorney.
Located at 675 Justice Way in Indianapolis, the CJC has 71 courtrooms. The Family Division courts are located on floors one through three. Free parking is available in Lot D or Lot C for ADA parking. There is also a drop-off and pick-up point in front of the building entrance. You should plan to arrive early for your hearing so that you have time to locate your hearing room and get settled before your hearing begins. Courtrooms are open 30 minutes before the start of a session so that lawyers and parties can prepare all the technology necessary to present their cases. Since there are no more transplants, you will be able to “check in” with a staff member inside the courtroom.
Lawyer ID Cards
The first step in preparing for your appearance before the CJC is to apply for your new attorney identification card. The Indianapolis Bar Association website provides helpful links to apply for a new attorney ID card and to the Community Justice Center Town Hall recorded webinar for all introductory information. on the CJC. Your new lawyer ID card allows you to bypass security in the lobby by scanning your ID. In addition, your ID card gives you access to the photocopiers, the attorney-client conference rooms, and the attorneys’ workroom on the fourth floor.
Find your courtroom
As you enter the CJC, there are display screens on the right showing current and upcoming cases and their corresponding courtrooms. You can also access Today’s Brief online at http://infax.com/docket/in-marion/?p=1104-403. Kiosks to help locate your courtroom are located under the register screens as well as on each floor. If you have trouble locating your assignment in the courtroom on the role monitors, there is a help desk in front of the clerk’s desk in the lobby to assist attorneys and litigants. Court staff can also be contacted by email or phone. An e-mail address is available for each court and will allow contact with each member of the court staff.
Presentation of the exhibitions
Anyone who has seen my office knows that I am striving to run my practice completely paperless, so I am particularly excited about the move to digital presentation of evidence. The 2020 experience has led us to adapt to the virtual presentation of exhibits in remote hearings. Now, hard copies of exhibits are only needed as a courtesy for the bailiff hearing the case or for the use of the ELMO document camera. For exhibits that you want to enlarge for the viewer, the document camera has an impressive zoom capability. A demonstration at the IndyBar Bench Bar Conference showed the camera’s ability to zoom into the back of a $5 bill to clearly read the state names on the Lincoln Memorial.
The NOMAD CZ (Credenza Style) is the evidence presentation system for non-jury courtrooms. A link to online training for the NOMAD CZ can be found on the IndyBar website, and appointments can be made with court staff to test out equipment before a hearing.
Lawyers have the option of using the NOMAD CZ’s integrated office or connecting their own devices. If you choose to use the NOMAD system, you can provide your exhibitions via a USB key. If you decide to bring your own laptop or tablet, you should ensure that you have the correct HDMI adapter if needed for your particular device. An HDMI cable is already connected to the system. If you wish to present evidence from the bar table, you will need to bring your own HDMI cable. The credenza also has two electrical outlets and USB charging ports to ensure your devices stay charged during the hearing.
A useful feature of this system is the easy annotation option. By touching the screen, you can circle text or mark an exposure to highlight it. Exhibits should continue to be filed 48 hours before a hearing to ensure the court receives them on time.
To request the recording of a hearing, all you have to do is place an order with the date and time of the hearing. For a public proceeding, there is no fee to request a registration. If you ask for the recording of a confidential procedure, you will have to ask the authorization of the judicial officer. As with live streaming of court proceedings, publication is not permitted. For appeal purposes, you will still need to request a transcript.
Most of my early years of practice were spent at the City-County Building, and saying goodbye to its courtrooms is bittersweet. From trial practice Saturdays in law school to my first cases after passing the bar, this will always be a place of special memories. I look forward to creating many new memories within the CJC and to seeing you all in the lawyers’ work room.•
Nicole Makris is a partner at Cohen & Malad LLP. The opinions expressed are those of the author.