Governor likely to soon get St. Joe judges bill

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Gov. Mitch Daniels will likely receive legislation today aimed primarily at scrapping judicial merit selection in St. Joseph County and creating a new Indiana Court of Appeals panel starting 2011.

After about a week's worth of negotiating on the legislation, a four-person conference committee filed a report Tuesday evening on House Bill 1491, legislation that would change how St. Joseph Superior judges are chosen. The county switched to merit selection in 1973. The bill would put in place a non-partisan election system where voters would choose the judges for a six-year term, and bill author Rep. Craig Fry, R-Mishawka, said the top two primary candidates would be put on the general election ballot in November.

The bill would also create a sixth Court of Appeals panel starting in mid-2011 -- the Senate-approved bill called for that panel to begin Jan. 1, 2011, but the conference committee agreed to push that back to July 1, 2011 so it won't impact the next two-year budget. During the conference committee, lawmakers also made it clear that the bill's provision capping and restricting judicial campaign contributions at $10,000 "from all sources" would not apply to individuals -- something legislators aren't allowed to restrict.

This bill also adds language about court interlocal agreements, which was originally entailed in House Bill 1703 but died without a Senate vote this session.

House conferees were Fry and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Elkhart, and Senate conferees were Sens. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte. Technical advisors were Reps. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington; Charlie Brown, D-Gary; Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville; and Eric Koch, R-Bedford; and Sens. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville and Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

Lawmakers were scheduled to approve that compromise bill today - the final day of the regular legislative session - and forward it to the governor for consideration. An online bill-watch tool set up by the governor's office shows that Gov. Daniels hadn't received HB 1491 by early afternoon.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.