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Editorial: State should avoid selection slugfests

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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

Indiana's lawmakers plan to look at judicial retention during this summer's study session. The Commission on Courts will study the current system and how voters get information about the judges who face such a vote. Three of our five justices are on the November ballot, as is our tax court judge, and one of our Court of Appeals judges. 
  
We'd like to see the average voter know more about our appellate courts. We know the high court is working to make information about the judges who are up for retention easily available to the average voter on the state's Web site, www.in.gov, and we applaud that effort. Once that's completed, we'd encourage our readers to let their hometown newspapers know about it to help spread the word. 
  
All our judges facing retention ought to be returned to the bench. We have a good thing going here in Indiana, and we're not the only ones who think so. We wrote in a recent post to our blog, First Impressions, about a conversation one of IL's reporters had not too long ago with Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. She told us she keeps in touch with our Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and often looks to Indiana for guidance and insight on various issues. It's something we've heard other jurists say when they talk about the civility displayed by our bench and bar. 
  
The retention issue for Indiana's appellate judges was fixed 40 years ago and does not need to be broken. In fact, we'd like to see a version of the state model replicated in trial courts. We've said it before, but it bears repeating; we're going to lose a great deal of judicial talent come the next election cycle because judges didn't play politics well enough or got outspent by an opponent. 
 
We hope the Commission on Courts will listen to the words of our chief justice and not let Indiana go the way of the "multi-million dollar special interest slugfests that are a common feature in our neighboring states and elsewhere in the country." It's no way to choose a judge.• 

Opinions: Readers may offer opinions concerning Indiana Lawyer stories and other legal issues. Readers may respond immediately by viewing the "submissions" section on our Web site, www.theindianalawyer.com.  We reserve the right to edit letters for space requirements and to reproduce letters on Indiana Lawyer's Web site and on online databases. We do not publish anonymous letters. Direct letters to editor Rebecca Collier at rcollier@IBJ.com or 41 E. Washington St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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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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