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Monday, March 21, 2016

Ind. Courts - Marion County Superior Court "Judge selection needs hard thought"

That is the heading to an IBJ editorial from this weekend that concludes:

Most counties in Indiana use partisan elections to choose local judges. Vanderburgh and Allen counties use non-partisan elections. St. Joseph and Lake counties use a merit system.

We are not advocating for one system over another. Each has advantages. A merit system lets people who know the law pick a person they think is most qualified. An election lets the people governed by the decisions judges make have a significant say in who holds the offices.

And there are political implications for each system. An election favors Democratic candidates because Marion County now leans left of center. A merit system could favor Republican applicants because the state leans to the right, meaning a governor is more likely to be a Republican.

The good news is that policymakers have a year to think about what to do. Discussions with a broad array of stakeholders—including the public—are a must. Selection systems in other communities should be studied. The final plan shouldn’t be one backed only by Republicans, even though they control the General Assembly.

The court’s 36 judges typically resolve nearly 40,000 criminal cases, 200,000 traffic cases and 50,000 civil cases each year. And many of the most important cases in the state are filed in Marion County—including challenges to decisions or rules made by state agencies or the governor.

That makes this decision too important to be politicized.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2016 02:26 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts