Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Who should I call with general questions about the courts?
Answer: If you do not know the phone number of who or what you are looking for, please call the main clerk’s receptionist at (574) 235-9635. The clerk can tell you who can give you the information you want and how to reach them.
2. What should I wear to court?
Answer: Lawyers should wear professional attire. Litigants and witnesses should wear appropriate 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. A copy of this rule can be found at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/stjoseph/.
3. I do not have a lawyer. How do I sue someone or file something with the court?
Answer: Anyone can go to court without a lawyer. If you represent yourself in court you are called a “pro se litigant”, and you will file all documents with the clerk’s office. If you would like help in figuring out how to file your own case, you can go to the Indiana Supreme Court self-service legal center, which can be found online at: www.in.gov/judiciary/selfservice. If you have any questions for the clerk’s office, the main phone number is (574) 235-9635.
4. I am a civil defendant, but do not have enough money to hire a lawyer. Can I get a lawyer to represent me for free?
Answer: No. You can’t have a Public Defender in a civil case because your rights are not what are at stake. However, you can represent yourself – pro se.
5. I am a criminal defendant, but do not have enough money to hire a lawyer. Can I get a lawyer to represent me for free?
Answer: Yes – thirty-two attorneys work in the Public Defenders Office and represent criminal defendants with little or no income. If you have been accused of a crime and would like to see if your income qualifies you for representation by a public defender, you can call (574) 245-6585.
6. I received a letter about jury duty and want to talk to someone about it. Who should I call?
Answer: If you live in St. Joseph County, you could get summoned for jury duty in either the St. Joseph County Circuit Court, St. Joseph County Superior Court, or United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Please look at your juror questionnaire or juror summons to see which of these three courts you have contacted you, and call the phone number listed below that corresponds to the court that has summoned you.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana: 1-877-377-1219
St. Joseph County Circuit Court: (574) 235-9551
St. Joseph County Superior Court: (574) 235-9506
Note: If you were summoned by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, you can complete your Juror Questionnaire or Juror Summons online at: http://www.innd.uscourts.gov/
7. Who do I contact to check on the status of a case?
Answer: 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. If you don’t know where your case is filled, call (574) 235-9635.
8. Who do I contact to get a copy of my birth certificate?
Answer: If you were born in St. Joseph County, you can get a copy of your birth certificate from the St. Joseph County Health Department. The phone number is (574) 235-9750 and the website can be found at: http://www.stjosephcountyindiana.com/departments/sjchd/index.htm.
9. What do I need if I want to be married in the Courthouse?
Answer: Either a Judge or the Clerk may officiate at a wedding. First, you must have a marriage license. A marriage license can be obtained at the Clerk’s Office. Once you have obtained the license you can make an appointment to be married by a judge. You should call the Judge’s chambers to set a date and time. You DO NOT have to have witnesses present.
10. What office do I need to go to obtain a marriage license and/or copies of my marriage certificate?
Answer: A marriage license can be obtained at the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is located at: 101 South Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601. They can be reached by phone – (574) 235-9635 or fax – (574) 235-9831. To obtain the marriage license you and your significant other must both appear in person, both with ONE valid form of identification each (i.e. driver’s license, state ID, passport, or birth certificate). The license costs: $18 if you are a resident of St. Joseph County or $60 if you are not a resident, which can either be paid by cash or money order. No tests are required to obtain the license. Upon receiving the license it will be good for 60 days.
11. What do I do if my attorney does not arrive?
Answer: Let the Court Clerk or the Bailiff in the courtroom know as soon as possible BEFORE your case is called. This way the clerk can possibly move your case back until your attorney arrives.
12. How do I get a transcript?
Answer: Nothing is automatically transcribed. In civil court you need to tell the court reporter the cause number and the date. There is a cost, which is based on a per page limit.
13. Is there someplace my children can go while I’m in or awaiting court?
Answer: No. DO NOT bring your children to court, UNLESS the children are party to the action.
14. Where and when am I scheduled to appear in Court?
Answer: Call the Clerk’s Office, at (574) 235-9635, if you have lost your paper work or contract your attorney if you have one.
15. When is my next Court date?
Answer: Consult your paperwork or your attorney, if you have neither call the Clerk’s Office at (574) 235-9635.
16. Where do I pay my Court fees?
Answer: 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. You can contact them by phone at: (574) 235-9635.
17. Which courtroom do I need to report to?
Answer: There are several ways that you can find out which courtroom you need to report to. Daily court proceedings are posted on an Information Bulletin Board, which is located in the Rotunda on the 1st Floor of the Courthouse. Information about specific courtrooms will be posted outside of those courtrooms everyday. However, you can also contact the Clerk’s Office at (574) 235-9635 and inquire about such information.
18. What do I do if I am late for my hearing?
Answer: Call your attorney or call the Clerk’s Office, at (574) 235-9635, and let them know that you are on your way.
19. My court date was yesterday and I missed it, what do I do?
Answer: Contact your attorney or contact the Clerk’s Office at (574) 235-9635.
20. How do I pay a fine?
Answer: Contact the Clerk’s Office, at (574) 235-9635, and they will instruct you on the best method to pay your fine.
21. How do I file a lawsuit?
Answer: You must fill out the proper paperwork at the Clerk’s Office, which is in the basement at the Courthouse, 101 South Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601. Then you must pay the filing fee.
22. How do I file an answer to a lawsuit?
Answer: Mail or go to the Clerk (i.e. Circuit, Superior, or Probate) that has been assigned your case.
23. Where do I pick up court forms?
Answer: 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 may also be found at: www.in.gov/judiciary/forms. If you are a resident of St. Joseph County with a valid library card you may also find a number of forms at: http://sjcpl.lib.in.us/research/research.html.
24. Where can I review a court file?
Answer: To review a court file you can go to the Clerk’s Office (i.e. Circuit, Superior, or Probate) where the case has been filed.
25. Where do I pay my traffic/parking ticket?
Answer: On the ticket that was issued to you there should be an address where you can send, or go and pay the fine. If you have any questions regarding the ticket, or have lost your ticket, then contact the Traffic and Misdemeanor Court at: (574) 235-9795 or go to their office at 1855 Courthouse, 112 South Lafayette, South Bend, IN 46601.
26. How do I get a case continued?
Answer: If you don’t have an attorney then you need to either: contact the attorney of the opposing side, call the Clerk’s office at (574) 235-9635, or file a request with the judge that is overseeing your case.
27. What if I need a translator?
Answer: The court does not automatically provide translators. In criminal matters a translator will be provided. However, in civil matters circumstances will dictate the necessity of such service and whether the court will provide one.
28. How can I become a certified court interpreter?
Answer: If you are interested in becoming a certified court interpreter information is provided at: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/interpreter/.
29. Where can I go to get child support records or a payment printout?
Answer: 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, and can be reached by phone at (574) 235-9635.
When you have any doubts about anything contact an attorney.