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Black lawmakers oppose Marion County judge selection bill

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A proposal to create a 14-member merit-selection commission to nominate Marion Superior judges would harm minority representation on the bench of the state’s largest county, members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus said in a statement Monday as the bill awaited second reading on the House floor.

Senate Bill 352 is the General Assembly’s response to federal court rulings that struck down as unconstitutional the former slating system by which Democratic and Republican parties filled judicial vacancies.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, was an original sponsor of the bill but joined in opposition to the composition of the commission that would be created. “It seems to us that this legislation flies in the face of the concerns expressed by the federal court system, which ruled that the way Marion County had been electing judges was unconstitutional because it did not provide residents with a ‘meaningful vote.‘ Instead of giving residents the same right to vote as is provided in 88 other counties in Indiana, SB 352 takes away direct election of judges completely.”

The original bill provided for a 16-member commission, half of whom would be lawmakers. Amendments passed since call for a 14-member panel consisting of:

• Four lawyers appointed by the Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses of the General Assembly;
• Four lawyers appointed by the Indianapolis Bar Association, Marion County Bar Association, Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana;
• Four members, two each appointed by the chairs of the Marion County Democratic and Republican parties;
• The chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals or her designee; and
• The chief justice of Indiana or her designee.

“We believe that judges should be elected from the start, and their party affiliation should be identified on the ballot,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis. “Allowing judges to be elected and identified by party would ensure that minorities would have the opportunity to become judges. The bill does not have any requirement for diversity, which means the selection committee and the court system would not reflect the makeup of Marion County.”

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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