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Monday, March 21, 2011

Ind. Courts - "Yorktown court race centers on 'lay judge' debate"

Updating this ILB entry from Feb. 3rd, Nick Werner reported yesterday in the Muncie Star-Press, in a long story that began:

YORKTOWN -- Two Indiana Senate bills that would have required city and town court judges to be attorneys have died in committee.

But with an election coming up, that doesn't mean the issue is dead, at least not in Yorktown.

Voters in the Republican primary there will choose between four candidates. Two -- Phil Gregg and Jennie Scott -- are attorneys, and two -- Courtland Moores and Bridge Pegeen Flanagan -- are not.

The only Democrat candidate, Jeffrey Gant, is not an attorney.

While Indiana requires judges in county court systems to be attorneys, no such requirement exists under state law for city and town judges. Some cities and towns have established their own laws requiring judges to be attorneys, but the majority haven't.

More from the story:
Two Indiana senators this year proposed similar bills requiring all city and town judges to be attorneys. The bills had support from the Indiana Judicial Conference's Strategic Planning Committee, which includes Delaware Circuit Court 1 Judge Marianne Vorhees.

Both bills, however, died in committee.

Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, worried such a mandate would increase operating costs for town courts as they would have to pay a salary high enough to entice an attorney.

Town judge positions locally pay around $15,000 a year. Under these wages, some attorneys might actually lose money by becoming a town judge because they would have to give up more profitable criminal defense work to avoid any conflicts of interest in dealing with prosecutors.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2011 09:07 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts