from the Johnson Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
41D01-1604-SC-1070 The Honorable Kevin M. Barton, Judge, The
Honorable Douglas B. Cummins, Magistrate Judge
Appellant Pro Se Kevin Campbell Marietta, Georgia
Kevin Campbell ("Campbell") brought a small claims
action in Johnson Superior Court for the return of a dog,
"Snickers, " against Irenea George
("George"). The Johnson County magistrate entered
an order giving Snickers to George. That order was never
signed or otherwise adopted by a judge. Without a final
appealable order, we remand.
and Procedural Posture
On April 5, 2016, Campbell filed a notice of claim in Johnson
Superior Court, seeking Snickers's return from
George's possession and $6, 000 in damages, the
jurisdictional limit for small claims actions. On June 9,
2016, Campbell and George both appeared in person before the
Johnson County magistrate and pleaded their cases. The
magistrate took the matter under advisement and, later the
same day, issued an order finding Snickers belonged to George
and denying Campbell's claim. That order was never signed
or otherwise adopted by a judge. Campbell moved to correct
error and to set aside the judgment for fraud; the magistrate
denied both motions, again by orders signed only by him.
Campbell filed notice of appeal on July 25, 2016. Campbell
then filed a "Motion For Relief By Law Due To
Magistrate's Lack Of Judicial Mandate" in Johnson
Superior Court on August 15, 2016. Because the completion of
the clerk's record was noted in the chronological case
summary on August 16, 2016, the superior court judge denied
the motion for lack of jurisdiction under Indiana Appellate
Rule 8 on August 22, 2016. On appeal, Campbell raises a
welter of issues, but we find one dispositive: whether the
magistrate's order was a final appealable order.
Concluding that it was not, we remand.
The Johnson circuit and superior courts are authorized to
employ one full-time magistrate. Ind. Code §
33-33-41-2(a). A magistrate's power is limited by
statute. Tongate v. State, 954 N.E.2d 494, 495
(Ind.Ct.App. 2011), trans. denied.
magistrate may . . .
(14) Enter a final order, conduct a sentencing hearing, and
impose a sentence on a person convicted of a criminal offense
as described in section 9 of this chapter.
(15) Enter a final order or judgment in any
proceeding involving matters specified in [Indiana Code
§] 33-29-2-4 (jurisdiction of small claims docket) . . .
I.C. § 33-23-5-5 (emphasis added). However,
[e]xcept as provided under sections 5(14) and 9(b) of this
chapter, a ...