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Election choices fade for Marion Superior Court

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Three unslated contenders for Marion Superior judgeships have withdrawn their names from the May primary ballot, including two sitting judges who between them have almost a half-century of judicial experience.

By the noon deadline on Feb. 25, incumbent Marion Superior Judges Kenneth H. Johnson and Gary L. Miller withdrew their names after filing their candidacies late last week. Both were overlooked at the county Republican Party's slating convention Feb. 16.

Indianapolis attorney Angela Dow Davis, who'd filed to run against the Democrats' slate also chosen Feb. 16, withdrew her name by the deadline. Davis would only say she wasn't slated and decided for personal family reasons not to run.

Each party has eight Superior Court judgeships in the primary, since state law balances the court between the Republicans and Democrats.

Judges Miller and Johnson said they were surprised and disappointed about not being endorsed by their party, but they supported the system and decided it would be best for them personally and the Republican Party not to run.

"In my opinion, the convention produced a number of inequities that ended a 30-year distinguished career," Judge Johnson wrote to Indiana Lawyer, explaining his decision to withdraw. "In light of these events, it is my opinion that a contested primary would not be in the best interest of our party and that we, as Republicans, need to continue to build on the excitement and momentum gained from last November's victories."

The judge spent an "emotional, harrowing, and sleepless" weekend weighing a decision, ultimately deciding that it would be best for his family and political party to not run against the slate, he said, citing his lifelong work of trying to further the goals of his political party.

"If you run against the slate, this all becomes hardball and the gloves really come off," he said. "The personal costs are so much greater."

Judge Johnson has been on the bench since 1979, most recently handling civil cases and multi-district litigation involving mass tort cases on asbestos and silica. Among his accomplishments is Schultz v. Ford Motor, which was the first case in the nation to involve a paperless trial.

Judge Miller, who's been on the bench since 1991, said he also welcomed the additional weekend to make a decision.

"I was not happy about the surprising results on the day of slating, but rather than endure 10 weeks of a bitter and costly campaign, I thought it would be better for everyone this way," he said. "I had support and financial commitments, and so that wouldn't have been an issue. But the whole process would have been unseemly, and that's not what I want."

Judge Miller credited the slated candidates as all being "good, honorable, and qualified" for the job, and said in the end it comes down to them doing a better job at courting precinct committeemen and party leaders.

"Quite clearly, this is something I didn't do as well," he said. "People who might have half the story or ignore it completely have all kinds of reasons that are just silly, from my not wearing a suit to being out of town for a week before the (convention) and missing forums. The fact is, I didn't get slated and now I'm not running. That's it."

The Indianapolis Bar Association's Judicial Excellence Political Action Committee recently released its 2008 Judicial Candidate Qualification survey results. Judge Miller received an approval rating of 85.5 percent and Judge Johnson received an 82.6 percent approval mark. Davis got a 41.2 percent approval rating. The surveys go to members of the IBA and Marion County Bar Association, as well as county prosecutor and public defender offices.

As a result of the judges' decisions to withdraw, all eight slated Republicans will be elected to the bench. Those on the Republican slate are incumbent Judges Cynthia Jane Ayers, Dave Certo, Robyn L. Moberly, Marilyn A. Moores, and Ted Sosin; as well as criminal Commissioner Marc T. Rothenberg, and attorneys Kurt Eisgruber, and Timothy W. Oakes. The Democratic slate lists incumbent Judges Annie Christ-Garcia, David J. Dreyer, Patrick L. McCarty, Tanya Walton Pratt, David Shaheed, and presiding Judge Gerald S. Zore; as well as attorneys Garland E. Graves, and James B. Osborn. On the Democrats' side, Washington Township Small Claims Judge Kimberly J. Brown is the only unslated choice on the ballot.
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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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