A third of the Indiana Court of Appeals judges face retention this year, but before voters mark their ballots attorneys have a chance to say what they think about the five appellate judges who want to remain on the bench.
The Indiana State Bar Association’s Improvements in the Judicial System Committee is e-mailing its poll to its members. The first poll will go out Friday, with a second being released Sept. 24 and the third being sent Oct. 1.
This is a confidential “yes” or “no” survey of the attorneys throughout Indiana, and the ISBA said results will be released publicly in early October.
This is the second time attorneys will receive the poll by e-mail rather than traditional paper ballots; the first time was in 2008, when three Indiana Supreme Court justices, one Court of Appeals judge, and the Tax Court judge were up for retention. About 8,000 members were polled two years ago, and nearly 1,500 cast ballots, translating to an 18.5 percent response rate, which overwhelmingly supported the jurists.
“Lawyers are uniquely qualified to evaluate members of the judiciary because we work with the judges and follow their actions and decisions all the time,” said Roderick Morgan, ISBA president and a partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis. “The anonymous comment section on the ballot provides an opportunity to offer comments and constructive criticism to a judge subject to the retention vote. Those specific comments can help a judge understand exactly what lawyers feel about the judge’s performance.”
Those facing retention this year are:
- Judge L. Mark Bailey: a former Decatur County judge who was appointed to the appellate bench in 1998 and retained in 2000. He represents the First District, which includes southern Indiana.
- Judge Elaine B. Brown: served on the Dubois Superior Court for a total 15 years before Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed her to the appellate bench in May 2008. This is her first retention vote after being initially named to the court, and she represents the Fifth District that includes the entire state.
- Judge Cale J. Bradford: served for more than 10 years as a Marion Superior judge before the governor elevated him to the appellate bench Aug. 1, 2007. He represents the Second District, which includes the central part of the state.
- Judge Melissa S. May: a former 14-year insurance defense and personal injury attorney in Evansville who was appointed to the Court of Appeals in April 1998 and then retained in 2000. She represents the Fourth District that includes the entire state.
- Judge Margret G. Robb: who was appointed to the appeals court in July 1998 by then-Gov. Frank O’Bannon, after 20 years of general practice in Lafayette and service as a bankruptcy trustee for the Northern District of Indiana, as well as service as a mediator and deputy public defender. She serves for the Fifth District that includes the entire state.
Full biographical information about each judge, as well as links to their appellate decisions and general retention election information, is available on the state judiciary’s website at www.courts.IN.gov/retention. The new site went online in June and mirrors the one created in 2008 after Senate President Pro Temp David Long urged the judiciary to provide more information about the retention process to voters.