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Public defenders at no cost are made available to those with limited financial resources in certain types of civil proceedings, including involuntary mental health commitments, terminations of parental rights, and proceedings where a loss of liberty is at stake. In such matters, a party seeking the appointment of a public defender should make a request from the judge to whom the case is assigned. For other civil matters, there are ways that legal representation may be available at little or no cost to people with limited financial resources. To see if you qualify, contact Indiana Legal Services, South Bend (574-234-8121) or the Volunteer Lawyer Network (574-277-0075). Also, the St. Joseph County Bar Association has a lawyer referral service (574-235-9657). Referrals by that service are not necessarily free or discounted. But many members of the bar are often open to discussing reduced fees and/or payment plans for persons of limited financial means. A mediation service, the ADR Mediation Plan, is also available in divorce and family law matters, such as child custody, property division, paternity, parenting time (visitation), and support. Mediation costs are determined on a sliding-fee scale which is based on income. For information, contact the ADR Mediation Plan at 574-235- 9551.
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No. Cell phones, cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs), electronic books, beepers, and any devices that are capable of audio and/or visual recording are not permitted in the courthouses within St. Joseph County. For a complete list of prohibited items please see page nine of the St. Joseph County Local Rules.
Electronic devices are not permitted in the courthouses. Any pictures, text messages or any other digitally-stored item you wish to present as evidence or introduce into the court's record must be provided in hard copy.
Anyone can go to court without a lawyer. If you represent yourself in court, you will file all documents with the Clerk of the Court. If you would like help understanding how to represent yourself, you can go to the Self-Service Legal Center on the Indiana Courts website. You may also consult Indiana Legal Help for additional information.
No. Do not bring your children to court, unless the children are involved in the court proceeding itself and are required to be present for the hearing/trial.
Consult your paperwork from the court or your attorney. You can also look for your case information online through the Odyssey Case Management System.
To check on the status of a case, you must know in which court the case has been filed. If the case is a civil case filed in Superior Court, call (574) 235-9648. If the case is a criminal case filed in Superior Court, call (574) 235-5484. If the case is filed in Circuit Court, call (574) 235-9679. You can also check the status of a case through the Odyssey Case Management System.
Let the bailiff in the courtroom know as soon as possible, before your case is called. This way the bailiff can possibly move your case back until your attorney arrives.
Lawyers should wear professional attire. A good rule of thumb for litigants and witnesses is that they should wear clothing that they would wear to a church, wedding, or funeral. Rule LR71-AR00-102.3 of the Local rules governs Appearance and Dress:
102.3. Appearance and Dress. Every person who enters a courthouse in St. Joseph County should be appropriately dressed. Lawyers should appear for court proceedings in professional attire; litigants, witnesses and spectators should appear in appropriate attire. Examples of clothing that is inappropriate and is prohibited from being worn during court proceedings includes, but is not limited to: (1) Hats or caps; (2) Outer garments such as topcoats, overcoats, jackets, or overshoes; (3) Clothing that exposes the midriff; (4) Shorts of any kind; (5) Sleeveless shirts (i.e., “muscle shirts” and “tank tops”); (6) Shower shoes (i.e., rubber “flip-flops” or slides); (7) Suggestive or otherwise inappropriate clothing (i.e., poorly fitting, slovenly, or unclean).
In criminal matters, a translator will be provided. Notify court staff with your request, and a translator may be scheduled for your next court appearance. In civil matters, circumstances will dictate the necessity of such service and whether the court will provide one.
You can pickup child support records or get a payment printout at the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is located at 101 South Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601 (lower level) and can be reached by phone at (574) 235-9635.
Court fees can be paid at the St. Joseph County Clerk’s Office. The office is located at 101 South Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601 (lower level). You can contact them by phone at (574) 235-9635.
To review a court file, you can go to the Clerk’s Office where the case was filed. You should know if the case was filed in Circuit, Superior or Probate Court because that will affect where you go or who you contact. If you are unsure where a case was filed, contact the Clerk's Office at (574) 235-9635
You can pick up the court forms that you need at the Clerk’s Office, located at 101 South Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601.
A number of forms can be found online at Indiana Legal Help, and public records can be researched online.
Court proceedings are not automatically transcribed. You will need to file a request for transcript with the court that heard the case. You will also need to provide your contact information so the court reporter reach you for any follow up questions about your request or to discuss cost of the transcript and payment. The cost of a transcript is calculated on a per-page basis.
If you were born in St. Joseph County, you can get a copy of your birth certificate from the department of vital records. The physical address is on the 8th floor of the County City Building located at 227 W. Jefferson Street, South Bend, IN 46601, and they can be reached at (574) 235-9638.