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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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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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