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Editorial: Lake Co. merit selection is back on the table

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
April 27, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

It’s at the end of House Bill 1266, and we have no idea whether the legislation has a chance at passage by the April 29 session deadline, but we had to go back and read it twice before we believed what we were seeing:

“Provides for the four judges of the Lake superior court county division to be: (1) nominated by the Lake County superior court judicial nominating commission and appointed by the governor; and (2) subject to the question of retention or rejection by the Lake County electorate every six years. (Current law provides that the judges of the Lake superior court county division are elected by the electorate of Lake County every six years.) Repeals provisions concerning elected judges of the county division. Makes conforming amendments.”

To be sure, HB 1266 contains provisions of great importance to specific courts throughout the state, and it calls for the repeal of a mandatory retirement age for Superior Court judges.

But it’s there in black and white: an extension of merit selection in a county that already utilizes that method for some of its trial court judges. We had to go find our judicial merit-selection soap box and dust it off. We hadn’t thought we’d need it this session with all of the drama surrounding the walkouts, handwringing about social issues legislation, and the politicking going on at the Statehouse. We’re just like most of the citizens of the state hoping our elected officials pass a budget by the deadline so we don’t have to pay for a special session.

But count us among those who would love to see this little provision pass. You can read about the legislation in a story on page 3 of this issue of the newspaper.

We had to agree with Indiana State Bar Association President Jeff Lind when he said that he believes opposition to merit selection in some communities exists because in Indiana “Nobody likes to be told what to do.”

But expanding merit selection in this county that already has it for some judicial officers is a great place to start toward expanding it elsewhere.•

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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