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Friday, February 15, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Senior judge program sparks many objections"

That is a headline from a 2007 story in the Louisville Courier Journal, about Kentucky senior judges, reported by Andrew Wolfson and Jason Riley. Most of the story is now only available from the paper's paid archive, but the beginning is still accessible:

Lawyers routinely gave her by far the worst marks in bar surveys. And in November, Jefferson County voters removed her from office after eight years in District Court.

But Paula Fitzgerald is back -- as a senior judge, one of 42 retired judges statewide who work part time to help handle the Kentucky courts' growing caseload.

To Fitzgerald's critics, her appointment undermines the voters' will and points out the lack of merit screening that other states have in place for selecting senior judges. ...

Later in the story, as reproduced in this ILB post from Jan. 14, 2007:
Unlike some states, Kentucky has no merit screening of appointments for senior judges, who are assigned to fill vacancies around the state and agree to serve 120 days a year for five years. In exchange, they receive enhanced retirement benefits usually worth several thousand dollars a year.

In Indiana, applicants must apply to a commission and submit the names of three lawyers who appeared in their court. In Tennessee, the Supreme Court must determine that an applicant's service "would promote the effective administration of justice."

In Indiana, IC 33-27-4 deals with the appointment of senior judges, as does IC 33-23-3, and IC 33-24-3-7:
Sec. 7. (a) The supreme court may appoint a judge who is certified as a senior judge by the judicial nominating commission to serve a circuit court, a superior court, a probate court, the tax court, or the court of appeals if the court requests the services of a senior judge.
(b) The supreme court may adopt rules concerning:
(1) certification by the judicial nominating commission; and
(2) appointment by the supreme court;
of senior judges.
As added by P.L.98-2004, SEC.3. Amended by P.L.32-2005, SEC.4; P.L.201-2011, SEC.21.
Here is the Senior Judge Handbook. And here is Administrative Rule 5 (B)(3), which discusses the qualifications for senior judge status.

However, despite the screening process in Indiana, several county judges who were defeated by the voters, and at least one who was disciplined by the Supreme Court, are on the 2013 Order Appointing and Continuing Senior Judges.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 15, 2013 12:35 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts