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Governor: merit-selection 'is not broken'

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Gov. Mitch Daniels has vetoed legislation that would have ended merit-selection of St. Joseph Superior judges and instead made them run for office in non-partisan elections and create a new three-judge panel for the Indiana Court of Appeals.

On the deadline for action on House Enrolled Act 1491, the governor late this afternoon used his veto power for the third time this session and rejected it. The legislation would have called for non-partisan elections to choose the county's eight Superior judges for six-year terms, and created a sixth Court of Appeals panel would have taken effect in July 2011.

In his veto message, Daniels wrote: "The current method of selecting judges for the St. Joseph Superior Court has prevailed successfully for 35 years. It is a model to be emulated, not discarded. It is not broken; it requires no repair. It has produced outstanding jurists and contains sufficient measures of public accountability. I believe it neither necessary nor wise to re-politicize the courts of St. Joseph County."

On the appellate panel aspect, the governor wrote, "The addition of another panel to the Court of Appeals at $2 million per year is difficult to justify in today's challenging fiscal environment. Moreover, if I were to sign a bill linking these two proposals, it could contribute to public cynicism by creating the appearance that my acquiescence was purchased with more appointments. Whatever the merits of expanding the Court of Appeals may be, they should be considered alone."

Indiana State Bar Association president Bill Jonas, a South Bend attorney, was pleased with the veto decision.

"The veto reflects Gov. Daniels' longstanding commitment to an independent judiciary as well as his sense of fiscal responsibility," Jonas wrote in an email to Indiana Lawyer. "We thank the governor for doing the right thing for the citizens of Indiana."

Lawmakers have the ability to override the governor's veto, but it is not immediately clear whether that is being explored. Rep. Craig Fry, R-Mishawaka, who spearheaded the legislation, couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday.
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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