Judicial selection in Indiana

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Indiana
Seal of Indiana.png
Indiana Supreme Court
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   10 years
Indiana Court of Appeals
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   10 years
Indiana Circuit Courts
Method:   Partisan elections
Term:   6 years
Indiana Superior Courts
Method:   Partisan elections
Term:   6 years

Selection of state court judges in Indiana occurs through the commission-selection, political appointment method or through partisan elections, depending on the level of the court. Some exceptions apply at the level of the circuit and superior courts, where judges are sometimes chosen in non-partisan elections or by commission-selection and political appointment. Judges wishing to serve for more than one term may run for retention or re-election, respective to how they were chosen.[1]

Judges' terms begin on January 1 following their election.[2]

Supreme Court and Court of Appeals

See also: Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection

The 5 justices of the Indiana Supreme Court and the 15 judges of the Indiana Court of Appeals are selected in an identical manner. When a vacancy appears on one of the courts, the Commission on Judicial Qualifications provides the names of three nominees to the governor, who must select a judge from that list.[1][3]

Newly appointed judges serve for at least two years, after which they must run in a yes-no retention election held during the next general election. If retained, judges serve ten-year terms.[1]

Qualifications

To serve on either of these two courts, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident;
  • admitted to practice law in the state for at least 10 years or have served as a trial court judge for at leaset 5 years; and
  • under the age of 75 (retirement at 75 is mandatory).[1]

Judges wishing to serve after the age of 75 may apply for senior judge status through the Indiana government website.[4]

Selection of the chief justice or judge

The chief justice of the supreme court is chosen by the judicial nominating commission and serves in that capacity for five years. The court of appeals selects its chief judge by peer vote, and he or she serves for three years.[1]

Circuit Court and Superior Court

See also: Partisan election of judges

The 102 judges of the Indiana Circuit Courts and the 196 judges of the Indiana Superior Courts are generally chosen in an identical manner. Judges are elected in partisan elections to six-year terms, after which they must run for re-election if they wish to serve additional terms. To learn more about these elections, visit the Indiana judicial elections page.[1]

Some exceptions apply:

  • Circuit court judges in Vanderburgh County and superior court judges from Allen County are chosen in non-partisan elections.
  • Superior court judges from the counties of Lake and St. Joseph 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 taking place two or more years after their appointment.[1]

Qualifications

Though some counties have imposed additional qualifications, a judge serving on these courts must at least be:

  • a circuit resident and
  • admitted to practice law in the state.[1]

Selection of the chief judge

The process of selecting a chief judge varies in the superior and circuit courts, as does the chief's term length.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

Indiana's limited jurisdiction courts (the tax court, probate court, county court, city court, town court and small claims court) vary in their selection processes:[5]

Tax Court Probate Court County Court City Court Town Court Small Claims Court
Selection: Comm. select., Gov. appt. Partisan election Partisan election Partisan election Partisan election Partisan election
Re-election method: Retention election Re-election Re-election Re-election Re-election Re-election
Qualifications: State resident for at leaset 2 years; admitted to practice law in the state for at least 5 years Admitted to practice law in the state U.S. citizen; county resident; admitted to practice law in the state City resident (some cities also require that judges be attorneys) Varies (some towns require that judges be attorneys) U.S. citizen; county resident; admitted to state practice; township resident for at least 1 year or elected as town court judge before 1999

Commission on Judicial Qualifications

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications recruits and interviews candidates to fill vacancies on the supreme court, the appeals court, and the tax court. The commission submits a list of three potential candidates to the governor, who must appoint one as judge. Moreover, the commission is responsible for selecting the chief justice of the supreme court (from among the five sitting justices) and for certifying former Indiana judges as senior judges.[6]

The commission consists of seven members:

  • the chief justice of the supreme court (who serves as chair);
  • one lawyer from each of the three court of appeals districts (appointed by bar members of that district); and
  • one non-lawyer from each of the three court of appeals districts (appointed by the governor).

Commission members serve three-year terms and can not be re-appointed or re-elected.[6]

History of the Court

Judicial selection methods in Indiana have undergone several changes in the last 200 years. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest.

  • 1986: The Indiana Tax Court is created, its judges being chosen through merit selection.
  • 1970: A constitutional amendment modifies the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Court of Appeals and Indiana Circuit Courts. Appellate court judges are to be appointed to ten-year terms by the governor with help from a nominating commission; circuit court judges are to be chosen in partisan elections to serve six-year terms. (The amendement went into effect in 1972.)
  • 1881: Criminal court judges are to be elected by the people to four-year terms.
  • 1891: The Indiana Court of Appeals is created by the general assembly, with judges to be elected by popular vote to four-year terms.
  • 1871: Superior court judges serve for four years instead of six.
  • 1851: All judges are elected by popular vote to six-year terms.
  • 1816: Indiana supreme court justices are appointed to seven-year terms by the governor with the senate's consent. "Presidents" of the circuit courts are appointed by the general assembly while associate circuit judges are elected by the people to seven-year terms.[7]

See also

External links

References

IndianaIndiana Supreme CourtIndiana Court of AppealsIndiana Superior CourtsIndiana Circuit CourtsIndiana Small Claims CourtsSt. Joseph County Probate Court, IndianaIndiana Tax CourtIndiana Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of IndianaUnited States District Court for the Southern District of IndianaUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of IndianaUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of IndianaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitIndiana countiesIndiana judicial newsIndiana judicial electionsJudicial selection in IndianaIndianaTemplate.jpg