INDIANA CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION
IN THE 1960s and 70s
A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY




This is currently a draft. [I added some editorial corrections Dec. 2nd afternoon.]

All page references below are to the PDF version, not the page numbers in the document.

Remember that for much of the time covered by these documents, the General Assembly met only every two years, leaving a much longer interim.

Although it was originally my intent to cover only Article 7, Judicial, it became quickly apparent that the action on the remaining Articles should also be covered. These documents cover the period of greatest change in our current Indiana Constitution since its adoption in 1851.

Marcia J. Oddi
December 2, 2013


THE DOCUMENTS

Report of the Judicial Study Commission, 1966

This is the 175-page initial report of the Judicial Study Commission. Dr. Herman B Wells' name heads the list of members. The first surprise is on p. 6:
The 1965 General Assembly voted for the statute creating the Commission by an overwhelming majority. After a six-month delay caused by litigation, the Commission began work on December 9, 1965.
From p. 8:
Procedure of the Commission - The Commission's research design encompassed three general areas:
1. a detailed analysis of the present Indiana system
2. a general survey of group opinion
3. an exploration of current trends in judicial modernization
The original draft resolution to rewrite Article 7 begins on p. 139 and includes the Commission's comments. The original draft was more expansive that the version approved by the voters in 1970. For instance, see pp.144-146, relating to the Circuit Courts.

And beginning at the bottom of p. 151 is a new section relating to rule making power, including:

By two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house, the General Assembly shall have the power to initiate, amend, repeal or supplement such rules governing the administration, practice, and procedure, including evidence, of all courts.
Biennial Report of the Judicial Study Commission, 1967-1968.

[Note that the cover and title page may be problematic, but the remainder is fine.] This 122-page typeset report with a blue leatherette cover is the second report of the Judicial Study Commission. From the progress report, on p. 5:
Two years ago, in its first Report, the Indiana Judicial Study Commission described the history and current status of our judicial system-the organization of our courts, the recruitment of our judges, and the procedures by which justice is administered in Indiana.

The Ninety-fifth General Assembly responded to the Commission's findings and recommendations by agreeing to a constitutional amendment and referring it to the Ninety-sixth General Assembly. The amendment would provide for selection of judges at the appellate level (Supreme Court and Court of Appeals) by the governor from a list of three persons submitted to him by a non-political nominating commission. After serving a short term, these judges would have their names submitted to the electorate for its approval. If they were approved, they would serve a ten-year term. These judges and only these judges would be subject to special provisions which would allow the Supreme Court to retire, remove, or censure them for infirmity or misbehavior while in office.

The General Assembly, however, did not provide for changes at the trial level. With one exception, they left the trial courts alone. The exception is the provision allowing the General Assembly to provide for a term of office greater than four years for the legislative courts, e.g., Superior, Probate and Juvenile Courts. It is contemplated that the General Assembly might well use this power to lengthen the term of office of the judges serving in these courts so that their terms would be at least as long as the terms of judges of the Circuit Courts.

Biennial Report to the Indiana General Assembly 1969, Vol. I

This 129-page typeset report has a gold leatherette cover is the first report of the Constitutional Revision Commission. Page 10 describes the origins of the Commission. During the 1967 session there had been a pair of bills considered that called for a referendum on the convening of a constitutional convention:
The failure of these two bills seemed to indicate that, although there was evident interest in constitutional reform in Indiana, the convention procedure might be too radical a departure from usual practices. As a result of the suggestion of Representative William D. Ruckelshaus, therefore, and with the strong support of Lieutenant Governor Robert Rock and Representative Richard Bodine, the Indiana Legislative Council, by resolution of September 6, 1967, established the Indiana Constitutional Revision Commission.
In all, this is an altogether interesting report touching on most Articles of the Indiana Constitution. Major changes in the Constitution resulted from the recommendations of this group, including, to name just two, annual sessions of the General Assembly, and the governor and lieutenant running on the ballot as a team, ending the possibility of a party split.

Insofar as Article 7 is concerned, however, the report states on pp. 32-33:

House Joint Resolution 6, which proposes a complete revision of the Judicial Article, was approved by the 1967 session of the Indiana General Assembly and will be resubmitted, for final approval, to the 1969 session. If approved the second time by the members of the legislature, the proposed amendment will be submitted to the electorate via referendum in 1970.

Because the report of the Judicial Study Commission (published separately) covers the proposed new Judicial Article in detail, no attempt will be made here to summarize it, save to note that it would provide initially for gubernatorial appointment of judges of the Supreme and Appellate courts after their nomination by a commission, the retention of judges through non-contested elections, 10-year terms, and also establish procedures for the discipline and removal of judges.

The Constitutional Revision Commission endorses the proposals of House Joint Resolution 6 and urges the 96th General Assembly to approve them.

Biennial Report to the Indiana General Assembly 1969, Vol. II

This is the only document in this group that has been located but not copied in full. It does not cover constitutional amendments but instead other interim reports to the General Assembly. Take a look at the table of contents starting on p. 5.

Included here are are the portions of the report re: Committee to Study Constitutional Prohibitions Against Holding More Than One Public Office; Civil Code Study Commission; Summary Report Indiana Judicial Study Commission; Judicial Conference Reports 1968; Committee on Juvenile Procedure; and Indiana Trust Code Study Commission.

Interim Committee Report of the Constitutional Revision Commission, 1970

52 pages, typewritten. Endorses for reapproval 7 pending amendments to the Constitution. Recommends an addition 7 new proposals. Also, "again endorses the three amendments approved by the 1967 and 1969 General Assemblies and recommends their ratification by the people of Indiana." See pp. 8-9. From the introduction on p. 10:
The Constitutional Revision Commission was initially established by the Indiana Legislative Council on September 6, 1967. It was directed to report to the Legislative Council and the General Assembly "recommendations of constitutional amendments and recommendations as to whether the Commission's study should be continued." Under the co-chairmenship of former Governors Matthew E. Welsh and Harold W. Handley, the Commission reviewed the entire Constitution and recommended 20 constitutional amendments and a bill for continuation of the Commission in the 1969-70 interim.

The 1969 legislative session approved 9* [see note on p. 10 for explanation] of the Commission proposals and the bill for continued study (HB 1307). The bill, however, was vetoed by the Governor. [In 1969 that would have been Gov. Whitcomb - here is his veto message] Recognizing the need for continuation of the work begun, the Legislative Council on April 30, 1969, recreated the Commission and again asked Governors Welsh and Handley to serve as cochairmen.

Report of the Constitutional Revision Commission

Undated but prepared during the 1969-1970 interim. 150-pages. Many of the proposals relate to proposed amendments urged by the Commission in 1969, and approved by the General Assembly. Here the Commission urges the reapproval in 1971. Major changes to the Constitution were adopted by the voters in 1971 as a result of this Commission's work. Does not cover Article 7 (see p. 13 of report).

Report of the Judicial Study Commission, 1972

Subhead: 1972 Judicial Article of the Indiana Constitution and Proposed Implementing Legislation. 134 pages, typed, yellow title page. Contains 3 parts: I. Introduction and progress report (18 pp); II. Judicial Article with Commission Comments (20 pp); III. Implementing Legislation with Commission Comments (90 pp). Here is a quote from p. 5:
Soon after its creation, the Commission embarked upon an exhaustive study of the state court system. The results of that study and the recommendations from it were incorporated in the Commission's Report to the 95th General Assembly² which considered a proposed constitutional amendment to replace Article VII of the 1851 Constitution. Denominated as House Joint Resolution 6 when introduced in 1967. the amendment included as its salient features the selection of all state judges by the nominating commission method, increased tenure of office, reorganization of the structure of the court system to eliminate levels of trial courts, and unification and integration of trial court operations. It is now common knowledge that siqnificant parts of the amendment were deleted before it was eventually approved by the Legislature. Because of the hesitation of the General Assembly to disturb the status quo of the trial courts, the provisions of the Amendment relating to judicial selection and retention were limited to the appellate courts, and structural reorganization of the trial courts was eliminated.

The amendment again was approved, as House Joint Resolution 12³ in the 96th General Assembly and subsequently adopted by the Indiana electorate in November, 1970. On January 1, 1972, it will become the new Judicial Article to the lndiana Constitution. While the amendment accomplishes less than it might have had it been approved in its original form, it is noted that since the enactment of the 1851 Constitution, the Judicial Amendment has been the single constitutional change fundamentally affecting the structural operation of Indiana's judicial system.

Report to the Indiana General Assembly, Vol. I, 1972

109 pages, appears to be typeset. This is part of a 3-volume set of Legislative Council reports "containing recommendations of interim study groups and task forces, staffed through the Council" to the 1973 General Assembly. This Vol. I is the report of the Constitutional Revision Commission. Pages 12-13 contain a list of the 3 pending amendments the Commission endorses for reapproval by the General Assembly, one that the Commission does not endorse (and recommends a substitute therefore), and 5 new recommended amendments. None of these relate to the judiciary. A Table beginning on p. 16 gives a History of Commission Recommendations 1967-1973. On p. 19, the Table lists the amendment revising the judicial system in Indiana, approved by the voters in Nov. of 1970.

Annual Report of the Indiana Judicial Commission, Judicial Conference, and Judicial Nominating Commission, 1972-73

5 pages, cardboard cover, typed. Post Article 7.

Judicial Study Commission Annual Report, Sept. 1, 1974.

This is a 174-page typed document, with a brown cardboard cover. The Commission, post the revision of Article 7, appears to be the precursor of the current Commission on Courts.
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Copyright(c) 2013, Marcia J. Oddi