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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Three unslated contenders for Marion Superior judgeships have withdrawn their names from the May primary ballot, including two sitting judges who between them have almost a half-century of judicial experience.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. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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