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Legislator wants elected high court jurists

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One Indiana legislator wants to make changes to the state's highest court, including how the jurists are seated. Rep. Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka, is sponsoring a House Joint Resolution that would require Indiana Supreme Court justices be elected instead of appointed and retained.

HJR 9, new this year, proposes several changes to the Supreme Court. Other members of the high court would appoint the chief justice instead of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor would fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court with a judge from the Indiana Court of Appeals to serve out the remainder of the term. The number of justices would be capped at five as opposed to the current option for up to nine total justices.

Perhaps the biggest change suggested in the legislation is that the justices would be elected by the general public to a 6-year term. The General Assembly would divide Indiana into three districts, and one justice would be elected by the voters of those districts. Two justices would be elected by all voters statewide

The legislation comes at a time when several bar associations have spoken out in support for the continuance and expansion of merit-based selection of judges on the appellate and trial levels. In a Q&A with Indiana Lawyer in 2008, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Theodore Boehm and Brent Dickson spoke in favor of the current merit selection and retention system in Indiana, saying it attracts quality candidates and prevents the political fights common in other states.

Rep. Fry also has proposed House Bill 1491 which would require St. Joseph Superior Court judges to be elected as opposed to the current merit-based selection and retention system in place there.

HJR 9 was referred to the Committee on Courts and Criminal Code this week. The proposed amendment has to be voted up in two consecutive legislative sessions, and then ratified by a majority of the state's voters before it would become law.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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