Helpful information from Res Gestae's View from the Bench - "What one trial court judge would like yo to know".
St. Joseph County Courts
- St. Joseph Courts Clerk's Office
101 South Main
South Bend IN 46601
574.235.9635 General Information Number
574.235.9831 Fax Number
- Circuit Court
- What is the Circuit Court?
The Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction consisting of one Judge elected to a six-year term and two magistrates appointed by the Judge. The Court has the authority to hear civil and criminal cases. In practice, the Circuit Court hears almost exclusively civil disputes ranging from contract, personal injury, collection, divorce, child support, estates, protective orders, injunctions, and administrative appeals. By local rule, the criminal jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is limited to criminal nonsupport and welfare fraud. The Circuit Court also conducts all Grand Jury proceedings.
The Circuit Court Judge is responsible for the supervision of the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, the Adult Probation Department, and the Public Defender's Office.
- Superior Court
- What is the Superior Court?
The Superior Court consists of eight Judges, with four Judges sharing responsibility for civil cases with the Circuit Court and the remaining four judges hearing criminal cases. The Governor appoints Judges upon recommendation of the St. Joseph County Judicial Nominating Committee. Superior Court Judges serve a first term of two years, followed by subsequent terms of six years, renewed by a retention vote at the general election. Two magistrates, appointed by the Chief Judge, hear cases in Traffic and Misdemeanor Court and Small Claims Court, both of which fall under the Superior Court’s jurisdiction. These two magistrates share jurisdiction and alternate between the two courts.
- Probate Court
- What is the Probate Court?
St. Joseph County is the only county in Indiana with a Probate Court, which is a court of limited or special jurisdiction. The Probate Court consists of one Judge elected to a six-year term and three magistrates appointed by the Judge. The Probate Court has authority over estates, wills, trusts, guardianships, adoptions, and paternity disputes. It also has a family court that deals with domestic matters such as divorce, child support, and visitation rights. The Probate Court has jurisdiction over all juvenile matters, including the administration of the Juvenile Justice Center.
The Probate Court website can be found online at: www.jjconline.org.
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