Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Ind. Courts - Filling county court vacancies, particularly juvenile court judgeships
The Allen Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission is beginning the process of selecting a new superior court judge, Commission Chairman and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David announced today. A vacancy on the Allen Superior Court will occur April 26, 2013 when Judge Stephen Sims retires from his position in the Family Relations Division.The ILB has emphasized the second paragraph. Read it in conjunction with this quote from the March 5th story in the FWJG:
State statute particular to Allen County, IC 33-33-2-39, allows another Allen County judge to transfer to Judge Sims position. Allen County Judge Daniel Heath informed the Commission he will transfer from the Civil Division to the Family Relations Division. That means a vacancy will be available in Allen Superior Court, Civil Division.
According to Indiana law, the Judicial Nominating Commission is required to nominate "the three most highly qualified candidates from among all those eligible" for appointment to the Allen Superior Court when a vacancy arises. "I encourage those interested in a public service career to submit their names to the Commission," said Justice David. "We recognize the Commission will have a tough task with many qualified Allen County attorneys, but we are looking forward to meeting with the applicants and providing the Governor with an excellent list of candidates." The appointment will be made by Governor Mike Pence.
The number of applicants for the pending opening for an Allen Superior Court judge will most likely grow, perhaps significantly, now that the duties have shifted.Marion County. Apparently, each county's court local rules may vary. I'm told that in Marion County:
Judge Dan Heath’s decision to move to the Family Relations Division to replace the retiring Judge Steve Sims will mark a significant change for Heath. The family-relations position requires knowledge of not just civil family law but juvenile criminal law as well, an expertise not that many of the county’s lawyers have.
And the position carries a heavy administrative workload, with responsibility for overseeing the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center in addition to the significant juvenile caseload.
Heath, now entering his 17th year on the bench, decided he was ready for new challenges and said he has already begun preparing for the new role.
Not to diminish the importance of the Civil Division seat that Heath and three other Superior Court judges hold, but his new job will be a lot harder. And the vacancy on the Civil Division will draw a lot more interest from local attorneys than the complex and wide-ranging Family Division seat.
There are a variety of factors that the Executive Committee is to consider when there is an opening and a judge requests to move to another court – seniority, expertise and ability, the judge’s desire, political balance of each division, racial and gender diversity in each division (Local Rule LR49-AR00 301). Thus, most judges, when first elected, end up going to the least desirable courts first. Judge Moores got to go to Juvenile when appointed essentially because no one else who was a current judge really wanted it.Tippecanoe County appears to have different statutes/rules, as when then-Judge Loretta Rush resigned from the Tippecanoe County juvenile court, six people "applied to fill the remaining four years and one month of Loretta Rush’s term," according to this Nov. 13, 2012 story in the Lafayette Journal Courier.
St. Joseph County. Judge Peter Nemeth, Probate Judge in St. Joseph County, who presided over what is the only probate court in the state with juvenile court jurisdiction, did not run for reelection in the 2012 primary.
Lake County. All of this is relevant because of a controversy that has arisen in Lake County was in the news last weekend, with a story by Marisa Kwiatkowski of the NWI Times that began:
Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura is asking the Indiana Supreme Court to issue an order requiring her replacement be chosen through merit selection rather than seniority, according to letters obtained Friday by The Times.This follow-up story was published the next day.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 12, 2013 12:07 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts