Judicial selection in Indiana
|Judicial selection in Indiana|
|Indiana Supreme Court|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
|Indiana Court of Appeals|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
|Indiana Circuit Courts|
|Indiana Superior Courts|
There are 5 judgeships on the Indiana Supreme Court, 15 on the Court of Appeals, 102 on the Circuit Courts, and 196 judgeships on the Superior Court.
Selection of Judges
Justices are selected for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals by gubernatorial appointment from a judicial nominating commission. Justices on the Circuit Courts are chosen in partisan elections, excluding the elections for circuit court judges in Vanderburgh County, which are nonpartisan. Superior Court judges are also chosen in partisan elections, however in the counties of Lake and St. Joseph superior court judges are appointed by the governor from lists of potential candidates submitted by the local nominating commissions, this excluding judges of Lake County's county division superior court, who must be elected. Judges then stand for retention in the first general election, which is held two years or more after their appointment. The Superior Court judges of Allen County run without party designation in the general election, with vacancies being filled by the governor from the list of potential candidates submitted by Allen County's judicial nominating commission.
Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nomination Commission of Indiana recruits and interviews candidates to fill in vacancies on the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Indiana Tax Court. The governor appoints one of the commission's three nominees for each vacancy, in addition to the Nominating Commission selecting the Chief Justice of Indiana from among the five justices on the Indiana Supreme Court. Moreover, it is the Nominating Commission that certifies former Indiana judges as Senior Judges to serve in Indiana's courts.
The state of Indiana's Judicial Nominating Commission is composed of seven members; the Chief Justice who serves as Chair, one lawyer from each of the three Court of Appeals districts by bar members in that particular district. One non-lawyer is appointed by the governor from each of the Court of Appeals districts as well. Commission members serve three-year terms and can not be re-appointed or re-elected.
Appointed Term Duration
Justices on the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are elected to 10 year terms, whereas justices on the Circuit Courts and Superior Courts are elected to 6 year terms.
The most necessary qualifications to become a judge on the Indiana Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals includes being a U.S. citizen, a state resident, being admitted to a state practice for 10 years or have served as a judge of a trial court for 5 years in addition to the mandatory age requirement of retiring at age 75.
Judges on the Circuit Courts and the Superior Courts must be a circuit resident and have been admitted to practice law within the state. Some counties may impose additional qualifications.
History of the Court
- Amendments to the State Constitution and Acts by Legislature
- 1816 - Indiana supreme court justices were appointed by the governor with the senate's consent to seven-year terms. "Presidents" of the circuit court were appointed by the general assembly, whereas associate judges were elected by the people to seven-year terms.
- 1851 - all judges were elected by the people to six year terms, and then four year terms for superior court judges in 1871. 1
- 1881 - criminal court judges being elected by the people to four year terms as well.
- 1891 - the Indiana Court of Appeals was created by the general assembly, with judges being elected by the people to four year terms.
- 1970 - an amendment was made to the judicial article to establish three constitutional courts, these courts including the supreme court, the court of appeals, and the circuit court. It was then stated that appellate court judges would be appointed by the governor from a list of potential candidates put forth by the judicial nominating commission. Appellate judges served ten-year terms, with the circuit court judges being chosen in partisan elections and serving six-year terms. The amendment went into full effect in 1972.
- 1986 - The Indiana Tax Court was created by the general assembly with the judges being chosen through the same merit selection process.
- News-Sentinel.com, "Retirement of Indiana chief justice highlights 'palace intrigues'," January 18, 2012