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Dearborn Circuit Court

General Information

  The Circuit Court serves Dearborn and Ohio Counties under Judge James D. Humphrey and Magistrate Kimberly A. Schmaltz. The Dearborn Circuit Court is located on the second floor of the historic Dearborn County Courthouse, 215 W. High Street, Lawrenceburg.

    Cases under Circuit Court jurisdiction include probate, civil cases involving more than $10,000 and major felony cases (Class C and above). The Circuit Court has jurisdiction over Juvenile Court cases and handles child in need of services cases.The Juvenile Court maintains the Redirect Program to provide intensive services and supervision to youth. The Dearborn County Juvenile Center is also under the Dearborn Circuit Court jurisdiction. The Circuit Court has established the Dearborn-Ohio County Child Advocate Program to help provide a voice to children involved in the Court system. For more information regarding this program call (812)537-8741 or access the program website at www.voiceofachild.net.


Circuit Court Judges

    Judge James D.Humphrey began serving the Dearborn and Ohio County Courts in 1999. He served two terms as Dearborn Ohio County Prosecutor. His previous experience includes serving as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Dearborn County Attorney, and general private practice. He is a 1976 graduate of East Central High School and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University in 1980 with highest distinction and graduated Cum Laude from Indiana University School of Law in 1983.

    Judge Magistrate Kimberly Schmaltz is a 1979 graduate from South Dearborn High School. She graduated with honors from Chase College of Law in 1999 and maintained a private practice until she began her service as Magistate in 2009. Magistrate Schmaltz has served as an adjunct professor at Chase College of Law. Her previous work experience includes administrator of Shady Nook Care Center. In 2007 she received the pro bono attorney of the year award for District 7, which includes Dearborn and Ohio Counties.

Contact Information

          Dearborn Circuit Court                   Ohio Circuit Court
          215 W. High Street                         413 Main Street, P.O. Box 185
          Lawrenceburg, IN 47025                 Rising Sun, IN 47040
          Phone (812) 537-8865                    Phone (812) 438-3410
          Fax     (812)537-8765                     Fax     (812) 438-2017

Office Hours

All office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

*** Dearborn County Criminal jury trials are conducted the first week of
  each month with civil jury trials being conducted the third week of
each month beginning on Tuesday.

Dearborn County Courthouse History 

     Dearborn County's first Courthouse was built in 1810 on the public square in Lawrenceburg. It was a two-story brick building with a hipped roof, crowned by an octagonal cupola, following the standard design for public buildings at that time. The entire first floor was dedicated to the courtroom while the jury room and judges' chambers were on the second floor. On March 5th, 1826 it was burned to a shell. The fire was believed to be the result of arson. Some records were saved but many were lost to the fire. Property owners were asked to bring their deeds to the recorder for re-copying. These records were hand written.
     The Courthouse was re-built within the same walls and local architects Jesse Hunt, James W. Hunter and George Dunn were appointed construction superintendents. The building was not ready for occupancy until the fall or winter of 1828. Two seperate one-story brick buildings were erected between the courthouse and Mary Street for the county clerk and recorder.
     Over time the population of Dearborn County grew and so did the needs of local government. The county commissioners decided to build a new courthouse.They were impressed with the Floyd County courthouse built in New Albany. The commissioners modeled the new courthouse after Floyd County. George H. Kyle was selected as architect. 
     Kyle was a native of Virginia before moving to Vevay around 1840. He had an excellent reputation and his buildings exhibited superior craftmanship. His plans for the new courthouse were approved by the commissioners on June 15, 1870. The pearl gray limestone was quarried in Monroe County Indiana. The contract for the stone cutting was awarded to Francis Raman, Indianapolis. T.J. Shannor of Lawrenceburg was the general contractor. Excavation began on July 17, 1870. 
     The cornerstone was laid on April 13, 1871. Louis Jordan of Indianapolis was the guest speaker. The ceremony drew 5,000 spectators according to one account. Included in the cornerstone were histories of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Druids, Good Templars as well as Lawrenceburg religious societies. Stamps, newspapers and fashion plates from 1871 were deposited as were many documents considered historic at the time including continental money and old coins from the Revolution.

     The Courthouse was completed in 1873 at a cost of $135,775.00. During the three years of construction, all courthouse business was conducted in the Odd Fellows building at the southwest corner of High and Walnut streets.

     The three-story building included city hall offices and a public opera house. The entire back half of the second floor was devoted to a magnificently appointed courtroom roughly 70 feet long by 50 feet wide. Thirty feet overhead was an ornate plaster ceiling featuring arches, coffers, finials and two center medallions from which enormous brass chandeliers were suspended.Surrounding the medallions is a painted sky featuring clouds and gold leaf stars.

     Political rallies, high school graduations and other public ceremonies were held in the courtroom. In 1902, Judge George E. Downey ordered that the courtoom be divided in half and that the plaster ceiling be covered by the pressed tin ceiling that is present today.

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