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Judicial candidates lose elections

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Two judicial candidates who’d faced Indiana Election Commission challenges earlier this year about their names even appearing on the ballot made it to the general election, but ended up losing the races and not getting to the bench in Lake and Allen counties.

In Allen County, incumbent Superior Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger lost the election for the seat he’s held for 19 years. He was defeated by attorney Wendy Davis. Opponents had tried to get the judge removed from the ballot in September on the grounds that he’d previously been disciplined by the Indiana Supreme Court, but the Indiana Election Commission refused to remove him based on language of state statute – finding that it only applied to attorney judicial prospects, not incumbent judges.

Meanwhile in Lake County, Highland attorney William I. Fine lost his bid for the Circuit bench to succeed retiring Judge Lorenzo Arredondo. The Republican candidate lost to Democratic challenger George C. Paras, who had been the only person on the ballot following the primary election in May. No Republicans ran in the primary and Paras was the sole name on the ballot until the county’s Republican Party chair appointed Fine as the candidate. But a Lake County town official challenged that appointment, saying the chair should have held a caucus and chosen someone that way party rules dictate.

The state election commission split on whether that was permissible, and as a result Fine was removed from the ballot. But Marion Superior Judge Michael Keele overturned that commission decision and put him back on the ballot in September. The Indiana Supreme Court refused to take the case before the Court of Appeals had a chance to rule on it, and the lower appellate court declined to speed up its review of the case before the election.

Though the election is now over and Fine’s candidacy is effectively moot, Crown Point attorney Michael Back who represents the challenger Michael Lambert said it may continue because the issue is broader than Fine’s election loss and goes to whether the party chair is allowed to appoint a judicial candidate rather than holding a caucus.

Rehearing "Candidacy issues in Allen, Lake counties" IL Sept. 15-28, 2010

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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