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Grant Superior judge steps aside

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A Grant County judge's illness has forced him from the bench temporarily, and the Indiana Supreme Court has appointed a deputy prosecutor from Marion as judge pro tempore.

Grant Superior 2 Judge Randall Lee Johnson filed a petition in mid-April that notified the state's highest court that he was unable to perform the Superior 2 duties because of illness. While details of his illness aren't outlined by the Supreme Court, Judge Johnson has been experiencing health problems for more than a year because of a mold-infestation in the historic county courthouse.

In mid-2008, the Indiana State Department of Health found mold and mildew problems in the court complex. The county relocated both Superior 2 and the juvenile court to the county office complex, and Judge Johnson had been working from home and hearing cases despite his health issues related to the mold.

Other court employees have also had health problems and the judge had temporarily closed the court in the past. County officials are still in the process of finalizing repairs or renovations for the Superior 2 location.

Judge Johnson took the bench in 2001, and his current term is set to expire at the end of 2012. Under Trial Rule 63 (B) (1), the Supreme Court granted his petition and named Marion attorney Dana Kenworthy as judge pro tempore. The high court's public information officer described that as a rare move, having to appoint a judge pro temp because of an ill-stricken judge.

A 2001 graduate of Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, Kenworthy has been a Grant County deputy prosecutor since 2001. Aside from those fulltime prosecutor duties, Kenworthy has also received recognition and awards, including the Randall T. Shepard Award for her pro bono work. She served four years as the county's pro bono committee chair and continues serving District 6, while also working to set up a mediation program for that local legal community.

The Indiana Supreme Court has not indicated how long Kenworthy will serve in that role, but her appointment began April 19 and her service remains in effect until the court orders otherwise.

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