Former Clark Drug Court judge among incumbents who lost in primary

IL Staff
May 7, 2014
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The Clark County judge who ran a drug court that kept some participants jailed for months without due process lost the primary election to a New Albany attorney.

Democratic challenger Laura A. Harbison defeated incumbent Clark Circuit Court 2 Judge Jerry Jacobi Tuesday to be the Democrat on the ballot in November, based on unofficial results. Harbison was admitted to practice in 2009.

Jacobi oversaw the drug treatment court in Clark County, which has been suspended due to “allegations of unlawful conduct by drug court staff and drug court practices harmful to participants,” according to the Indiana Judicial Center. The court is no longer accepting new participants and current ones have been transferred to Clark Circuit 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael.

Several former drug court participants are suing Jacobi and other officials, alleging civil rights violations. The plaintiffs claim they were subjected to improper detentions, some lasting several months, and other alleged due process violations.

Jacobi’s colleague on the bench, Clark Circuit 1 Judge Daniel Moore, also lost in the primary to Democratic challenger Andrew Adams, a Jeffersonville attorney admitted in 2001.

Several other judges around the state were unseated in Tuesday’s primaries. Among them:

  • Tippecanoe Superior 4 Judge Gregory Donat was defeated by challenger Laura Zeman in the county’s Republican primary. Zeman, a Clinton County deputy prosecutor and former Tippecanoe Superior 5 judge, received 57 percent of the vote.  There was no Democratic primary in the race.
  • LaGrange Superior Judge George E. Brown was unseated in the Republican primary, falling to challenger Lisa M. Bowen-Slaven, who received almost 60 percent of the vote. Bowen-Slaven is vying to become the county’s first female judge.
  • Marion County Center Township Small Claims Court Judge Michelle Scott was defeated in the Democratic primary, unseated by Indianapolis solo practitioner Brenda Roper, who won 64 percent of the vote after receiving the endorsement of the Marion County Democratic Party. In November, Roper will face Republican Kevin Green, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Two counties conducted primaries for newly established courts.

  • In Johnson County, Magistrate Judge Marla Clark won the Republican primary for the county’s new Superior Court 4. Clark defeated Deputy Prosecutor Joe Villanueva, winning 57 percent of the vote.
  • In Owen County, Republican voters chose Kelsey Hanlon by a nearly 2-1 margin over Terry English to be the first Circuit Court 2 judge in the Spencer courthouse.

Several counties held primary elections for pending judicial vacancies.

Central Indiana

  • In Boone County, attorney Bruce Petit won a close race against Jim Holden, earning just over 52 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for Boone Superior Court 2. Current Boone Superior 2 Judge Rebecca S. McClure is retiring at the end of the year.
  • In Hendricks County, Prosecutor Rhett M. Stuard bested two challengers to win the Republican primary for Circuit Judge 2, winning 42 percent of the vote over Paul A. Hadley and Herb D. Witham. Stuard seeks to replace retiring Superior 2 Judge David H. Coleman.
  • In Shelby County, Prosecutor R. Kent Apsley beat Andrew M. Eads in the Republican primary to succeed retiring Superior 1 Judge Jack Tandy. Apsley won almost 73 percent of the vote.
  • In Tippecanoe County, current Superior 5 Judge Les Meade defeated Lafayette attorney Earl McCoy in the Republican primary to succeed Donald L. Daniel, who is retiring as Tippecanoe Circuit judge. Meade won 53 percent of the vote. Winning the GOP primary for Meade’s former seat in Tippecanoe Superior 5 was Magistrate Judge Sean Persin, who garnered 53 percent of the vote against his challenger, Lafayette attorney Daniel Moore.
  • In Vigo County, Lakshmi (Lucky) Reddy won 58 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against challenger John A. Kesler II in the race to succeed retiring Superior 2 Judge Philip Adler. Reddy will face Republican Christopher J. Dailey in the November election. Dailey ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

Northern Indiana

  • In Elkhart County, solo practitioner Teresa Cataldo prevailed in a four-candidate Republican primary contest to succeed retiring Judge George Biddlecome in Superior Court 3. Cataldo won nearly 33 percent of the vote, followed by David Francisco with 29 percent, Andrew M. Hicks with 22 percent and Fay Schwartz with 16 percent.
  • In Kosciusko County, attorney David C. Cates won a three-way race to succeed retiring Judge Duane Huffer in Kosciusko Superior Court 2. Cates received 44 percent of the vote against Chad Miner (30 percent) and Stephen P. Harris (25 percent).
  • In LaPorte County, Michigan City attorney Michael Bergerson won 64 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary against John Lake in his effort to succeed retiring Superior 1 Judge Kathleen Lang.

Southern Indiana

  • In Sullivan County, the Democratic primary is too close to call in a race to succeed Superior Judge Robert E. Springer. Attorney Hugh R. Hunt received 29 more votes than Magistrate Ann Smith Mischler out of 3,935 votes cast. The Sullivan County clerk’s office did not immediately indicate whether a recount would be sought.
  • In Warrick County, Newburgh attorney Todd Corne won 54 percent of the Republican primary vote in his race for Circuit Court judge against Greg Granger, an attorney with Bowers Harrison LLP in Evansville. Current Circuit Judge David Kelley did not seek re-election.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues