Among the records for longest carpet of flowers laid and the world’s shortest cat you’ll soon find the name of a Johnson County attorney.
Marc L. Griffin was recently named by the Guinness World Records as the world’s youngest judge for the time he served as a township justice of the peace in Johnson County in the mid-1970s. At an age when most teens read comic books and magazines, Griffin spent time reading Indiana statutory law. He always wanted to be an attorney, so it seemed like a good thing to read. It was while reading the code that he learned more about the justice of the peace position.
After graduating high school early, Griffin decided to seek a commission to be the White River Township justice of the peace, a position that had been vacant for years. As he read the statute, all that was required was that the officeholder be an elector. The Supreme Court of the United States had just ruled that if someone would be 18 by the time of the November general election, the person could vote in the primary. Griffin would have been 18 by the time of the November 1974 election.
Against the advice of his staff and the Indiana attorney general, Gov. Otis Bowen appointed Griffin justice of the peace in early 1974. The issue even went to trial where a Circuit judge from another county ruled the attorney general was wrong in saying Griffin wasn’t old enough to hold the job. Griffin served as justice of the peace until the Legislature abolished the position Jan. 1, 1976.
During his time on the bench, Griffin married people and handled traffic tickets, domestic violence cases, and other civil issues. He even made the news when the attorney general was challenging his commission because there were concerns that all of the marriages he performed were invalid.
Griffin also had some amusing times while on the bench, due to his youthful appearance. Griffin recalled the time an Indiana state trooper phoned his home at midnight asking him to come to court so a Georgia truck driver could plead guilty to speeding and pay his fine.
“I put on my robe and got on the bench, and the truck driver is slouching around. The truck driver said ‘Sonny, you better go get your old man so I can pay this fine and get on down the road,’” Griffin recalled. “The trooper said, ‘Sir, you may want to address the court in the proper fashion or the judge could throw you in jail for contempt.’”
When his position was abolished, Griffin went to college and law school, earning a degree from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. He’s still in Johnson County, practicing law at the Greenwood firm Griffin Hicks & Hicks, and he says he has no plans to pursue another judgeship.
His appearance in the Guinness World Records came about by chance. While researching information online for a case, Griffin stumbled across a story in the ABA Journal from December 2010 about a Texas man who held the record of youngest judge for his time on the bench at age 18. Griffin realize that he should actually hold that position, so he emailed Guinness World Records, sent in his birth certificate, commission order, and other documentation, and learned about three weeks ago that he is now considered the world’s youngest judge.
Griffin is awaiting his certificate from the GWR.