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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ind. Courts - Questions about vacancies on the St. Joseph Superior Court

Governor Pence has now received two sets of five names to fill two different vacancies on the St. Joseph Superior Court, the only county in Indiana other than Lake County (which also has been in the news recently) [and, I've just been told, Allen, but apparently that only applies to interim vacancies on the superior court] which has a merit system for the selection of judges.

Unfortunately his office appears to be unaware of it, as his Judicial Appointments webpage states "There are no current vacancies."

From the Indiana Courts web calendar, however, a reader can glean this information:

The Governor has 60 days to act in each case.

Madeline Buckely reported on March 19th in a story in the South Bend Tribune on the second set of nominees:

The commission chose three of the same finalists it previously sent to the governor to fill another Superior Court bench, that of retiring Judge Roland Chamblee.

Gammage, Hurley and Sanford are also in the running to take over Chamblee's bench.

The ILB (and a number of others) received a note this afternoon from a "concerned citizen" pointing out that this overlap was a problem:
The judicial selection commission cannot send the same 3 names on both lists to the Governor!
The reader points to IC 33-33-72, the law governing St. Joseph County superior courts.

The judicial nominating commission of St. Joesph county
is set up in the law beginning at section 29. Here is a description of that body from the Indiana Court's recent news releases:
The Nominating Commission was established by the Indiana General Assembly in 1973. It consists of seven members. Three of the members must be admitted to the bar and are selected by the lawyers of the county and three must be non-lawyers appointed by a committee consisting of the judge of the St. Joseph Circuit Court, the mayors of South Bend and Mishawaka, and the president of the board of St. Joseph County commissioners. The seventh member, who serves as the chairman of the Commission, must be a justice of the Indiana Supreme Court or a judge of the Court of Appeals appointed by the Chief Justice of Indiana. Justice Massa recently replaced retired Justice Frank Sullivan as Chairman of the Commission.
Here is the provision pointed out by the concerned citizen. It seems pretty clear on this point:
IC 33-33-71-39 Withdrawal of list or names of nominees

Sec. 39. (a) After the commission has nominated and submitted to the governor the names of five (5) persons for appointment to fill a vacancy of the St. Joseph superior court:
(1) any name may be withdrawn for a cause considered by the commission to be of a substantial nature affecting the nominee's qualifications to hold office; and
(2) another name may be substituted at any time before the appointment is made to fill the vacancy.
(b) If a nominee dies, or requests in writing that the nominee's name be withdrawn, the commission shall nominate another person to replace the nominee.
(c) If there are existing at the same time two (2) or more vacancies on the court, the commission shall nominate and submit to the governor a list of five (5) different persons for each of the vacancies. The commission may before an appointment is made:

(1) withdraw the lists of nominations;
(2) change the names of any persons nominated from one (1) list to another; and
(3) resubmit the lists as changed or substitute a new name for any of those previously nominated.
As added by P.L.98-2004, SEC.12.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2013 03:47 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts