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5 appeals judges up for retention

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A third of the Indiana Court of Appeals judges face voter retention this year, including two initially appointed within the past three years to fill vacancies on the state’s second highest court.

With a month and a half before the filing deadline, one of the applicants says that all five appellate judges submitted their retention paperwork on Tuesday to ensure their names will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. The deadline to do that is noon July 15, according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Election Division.

That means that lawyers and voters statewide will have the chance to cast a “yes” or “no” vote in deciding whether to keep those jurists on board to craft opinions, interpret state law, and represent the Hoosier legal world in setting judicial standards.

Those facing retention this year are:

– Judge L. Mark Bailey: a former Decatur County judge who was appointed to the appellate bench in 1998 and retained in 2000. He represents the First District, which includes southern Indiana.

– Judge Elaine B. Brown: served on the Dubois Superior Court for a total 15 years before Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed her to the appellate bench in May 2008. This is her first retention vote after being initially named to the court, and she represents the Fifth District that includes the entire state.

– Judge Cale J. Bradford: served for more than 10 years as a Marion Superior judge before the governor elevated him to the appellate bench on Aug. 1, 2007. He represents the Second District, which includes the central part of the state.

– Judge Melissa S. May: a former 14-year insurance defense and personal injury attorney in Evansville who was appointed to the Court of Appeals in April 1998, then retained in 2000. She represents the Fourth District that includes the entire state.

– Judge Margret G. Robb: who was appointed to the appeals court in July 1998 by then-Gov. Frank O’Bannon, after 20 years of general practice in Lafayette and service as a bankruptcy trustee for the Northern District of Indiana, as well as service as a mediator and deputy public defender. She serves the Fifth District that includes the entire state.

Full biographical information on each judge, as well as links to their appellate decisions and general retention election information, is available on the state judiciary’s website at courts.IN.gov/retention. The new site went online Wednesday and mirrors the one created in 2008 after Senate President Pro Tem David Long urged the judiciary to provide more information about the retention process to voters.

The state’s merit-selection and retention system has been in place since a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 1970; it’s been used to select every current member of the state appellate courts. A seven-member nominating commission interviews potential appellate jurists and ultimately submits three names to the governor, who makes the final appointment. That appointee serves for at least two years and then faces retention in the first statewide general election after that probationary term. If retained, that person faces a retention vote every 10 years unless he or she decides to leave the court or hits the mandatory retirement age of 75.

This is the first time since 2006 that five of the 15 intermediate appellate court judges have faced retention votes. None faced retention last year, and only one in 2008.

Judge Robb told Indiana Lawyer today that they all walked their paperwork over to the state office earlier this week, complying with the process required by Indiana Code § 33-25-2. Co-counsel Leslie Barnes in the state’s election division said if one of the jurists filed for retention but later decided against returning to the court or was not able to serve in that capacity any longer, then the Judicial Nomination Commission process for selecting a new judge would take effect.
 

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