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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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