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Delaware County's first public defender dies

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A former Delaware County Circuit judge and the first public defender in that county died Monday.

Judge James Joseph Jordan, 77, served as a public defender, prosecutor, and judge during his legal career. He was Delaware County's first public defender from 1960 to 1961. He worked as a deputy prosecutor before leaving for private practice, and returned to the prosecutor's office when he was elected Delaware County Prosecutor in 1974. He served as prosecutor until 1979, when he opened his own private law practice.

Judge Jordan served as a master commissioner under Delaware Circuit Judge Richard Dailey for 19 years. In 1998, then-Gov. Frank O'Bannon named him to complete the term of a Circuit judge who had died. Judge Jordan was on the bench of Circuit Court 4 through December 2002. He then worked as a senior judge until his death.

The judge was a member of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, Indiana State Bar Association and Muncie Bar Association.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth M. Jordan; children, Eleanor M. Jordan, Naperville, Ill.; Eric R. (Marian) Jordan, South Elgin, Ill.; Mark W. (Brenda) Jordan, Westfield, Ind.; Margaret R. (John) Ridenour, South Bend; John M. (Carrie) Jordan, Indianapolis; Joseph P. (Don Diforio) Jordan, Stamford, Conn.; Martha K. (Lee) Jarvis, St. Cloud, Fla.; Perry T. (Jeannie) Jordan, Albion. He is also survived by his sister, JoAnn Phillips, nine grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

A calling will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and one hour before services at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Meeks Mortuary and Crematory, Washington St. Chapel, 415 E. Washington St., Muncie. Burial will follow in Elm Ridge Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in his name to the Salvation Army, Muncie Mission, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association.

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