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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ind. Courts - Still more on "Special judge appointed to Hammond City Court "

This ILB post from June 7th reported that, per the NWI Times, "Three candidates vie to be new Hammond City Court Judge." The story reported that the three were Nathan Foster, Amy Jorgensen and Diana Gonzalez, and that:

[T]he Indiana Supreme Court on April 26 appointed [Gerald P. Kray] to serve as temporary judge until a new judge is appointed by Gov. Mike Pence.
The ILB has seen no news release from the Gov's office on an appointment, but the two Region papers reported Nov. 21st that the Gov. has now made an appointment to fill the judicial vacancy. From the NWI Times:
CROWN POINT — Gov. Mike Pence named former business owner Amy Jorgensen the new Hammond City Court judge on Monday, a decision criticized by the city's mayor.

Jorgensen is the former owner and operator of seven Sylvan Learning Centers in Northwest Indiana and Chicago, according to a resume she provided The Times of Northwest Indiana.

Jorgensen said Monday in an email she sold her remaining interest in the tutoring centers in December 2015, but she remains a consultant for the new owners.

In January, Jorgensen was appointed chairwoman of the St. John Republican Party, but she said Monday she resigned from that position.

Jorgensen obtained a law degree from the Valparaiso University School of Law in 1998, the resume states. * * *

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., a Democrat, criticized the governor Monday for choosing a nonresident of the city to serve as its judge. He also said Jorgensen lacked the law experience necessary to preside over the city's busy court.

“She will get very little respect from me as mayor,” McDermott said in an interview. “This is a carpetbagger coming in to run our City Court and hundreds of thousands of dollars.” * * *

Jorgensen's resume indicates she has had little, if any, professional law experience, but her law license remains active, state records indicate.

She did not respond directly to questions about her law experience, but said Pence reviewed her application and declared she would make an "excellent judge," which should satisfy the mayor.

Jorgensen admitted she was not a current resident of Hammond, but said it was not a requirement for a gubernatorial appointee. However, she said she executed a lease for a Hammond residence last Friday, and she was also seeking to purchase a home.

The Gary Post-Tribune story is headed: "City Judge appointment riles McDermott." The long story begins:
Judicial appointment Vice President-elect Gov. Mike Pence made Monday has Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. seeing red.

St. John Republican Party Chairman Amy Jorgensen was sworn in as Hammond City Court judge Monday morning, according to a release from Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks.

Jorgensen, 46, replaces Judge Gerald Kray, who was appointed Hammond City Court Judge by the Indiana Supreme Court after Judge Jeffrey Harkin's death in April.

"Amy Jorgensen possesses the intellect and temperament to make an excellent judge," Pence said in the release. "I am confident that she will serve the community of Hammond with distinction, and I thank her for stepping forward in this capacity."

McDermott said Monday that Jorgensen's appointment was "news to him," as he found out through social media.

"It's such a joke," McDermott said. "Judge Kray didn't even get a call that this was happening."

McDermott said what concerns him most, however, is that Jorgensen has said previously that she has "never used her law degree" from Valparaiso University School of Law.

"She admits she's never practiced law, and she's going to be a judge? This is unprofessional cronyism, and I have no confidence in this appointment," McDermott said. "This lady ran Sylvan Learning Centers."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 23, 2016 03:19 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts