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IBA: Website to Provide Info About Appellate Judges on Retention Ballot

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Indiana’s Appellate Courts are once again providing voters with a simple avenue for learning about judges who are on the November retention ballot. A website has been created to help voters make informed decisions. The site is designed to give voters access to biographical information about the judges and details about the decisions they have made while serving on the bench. The website can be found at courts.IN.gov/retention.

In November, the following Court of Appeals Judges will appear on the retention ballot: L. Mark Bailey of the First District which includes southern Indiana, Elaine B. Brown of the Fifth District which includes the entire state, Cale J. Bradford of the Second District which includes central Indiana, Melissa S. May of the Fourth District which includes the entire state and Margret G. Robb of the Fifth District which includes the entire state.

The website is designed to be user-friendly with a number of ways for voters to learn about judges. Visitors to the site can watch appellate cases unfold first-hand. Oral argument video is webcast live and later archived. The retention website allows voters to watch those arguments. Voters can also search a database of judicial opinions. Opinions are the written decisions of a case and are available for citizens to read.

In 2008 the Appellate Courts developed a similar website after Senate President Pro Tempore David Long urged the judiciary to provide more information about the retention election to voters. Court of Appeals Judges Terry Crone and Cale Bradford (who were not on the 2008 ballot) coordinated the website creation. The Indiana Division of State Court Administration provided technical support.

Indiana selects appellate judges based on merit. The Judicial Nominating Commission interviews judicial applicants and provides the Governor with a list of three candidates. The Governor makes the final selection. Once appointed, after serving two years, a judge must stand for retention in the first general election. The voter is presented with the question “Should Justice (or Judge) Jane B. Jones be retained in office?” If the judge receives a majority of “yes” votes, the judge is retained. The judge is then on the retention ballot every 10 years.• 

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