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Attorney survey on Marion County judiciary begins

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Eighteen Marion County judges will be on the ballot in the May 2012 primary. The Indianapolis Bar Association is asking attorneys to voice their opinions about those jurists.

The IBA’s Judicial Excellence Political Action Committee began its evaluation today of 2012 candidates for the Marion Superior bench, asking attorneys to fill out the online survey being sent to all members of the IBA as well as those with the public defender and prosecuting attorney’s offices. The survey closes on Jan. 18.

One change this year asks attorneys to evaluate only those judges or attorneys on the ballot that they have direct experience with,  IBA president Scott Chinn explained. He encourages all attorneys to participate if they’re able.

“The public gets top vote, but really their knowledge is limited and is mostly derived from the media or public accounts of trials,” Chinn said. “With the limited information out there about these important public offices, the bar for a long time has seen the value in surveying people who know these judges the best, in order to help inform the public.”

By law, the number of Marion Superior judges facing election is split between the Republican and Democratic parties. Twenty judicial positions will be decided in 2012. Nine sitting judges from each of the two political parties will be on the ballot, and one judge from each party is retiring. On the Republican side, judges facing re-election this year include Sheila Carlisle, Michael Keele, Bob Altice, Clark Rogers, Lisa Borges, William Young, William Nelson, Reuben Hill and Carol Orbison. The Democrat judges include Heather Welch, Rebekah Pierson-Treacy, Grant Hawkins, Jose Salinas, Linda Brown, Tom Carroll, David Shaheed, Barb Crawford and John Hanley. Democrat Barb Collins and Republican S.K. Reid are retiring.

Attorneys who are not currently serving on the Marion Superior Court but  submitted their names to JEPAC for evaluation by the Jan. 6 deadline include Democrats Greg Bowes, John Boyce, John M.T. Chavis II and Mark King; and Republicans Rom Byron, Amy M. Jones, James A. Joven, Helen Marchal and Steven Rubick.

Each political party slates its list of judges to appear on the May primary ballot in Marion County, with the Republican slating convention scheduled for Jan. 28 and the Democrat slating convention scheduled for Feb. 11. The filing deadline for candidates is Feb. 13, and anyone who isn’t chosen to be on a particular slate can decide to run against the slate for the May primary election.

Non-IBA attorneys who’ve entered an appearance in the last three years and who would like to complete the survey should contact IBA director Julie Armstrong at jarmstrong@indybar.org.

In October, the St. Joseph County Bar Association released the results of its 2011 Judicial Survey that was sent to attorneys last summer. The survey included eight judges, including the three who will be up for retention election in November 2012:  Judges Jerome Frese, Jenny Pitts Manier and Margot Reagan. Full results of that survey can be found online.

The Lake County Bar Association also conducted a survey last year and released results in October. That attorney survey includes judges who aren’t on the upcoming ballot but might face a retention vote in coming years. Eight judges were included, including the four who will be on the ballot in 2012: Diane Boswell, Jeffrey Dywan, Salvador Vasquez and Jesse Villalpando.

 As in St. Joseph County, Lake County judges are chosen by a local nominating commission and selected by the governor, laterfacing a retention vote.

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