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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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