2 judges, public defender selected as COA judge finalists

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Two trial court judges with a breadth of experience hearing criminal and civil matters and a public defender who’s tried hundreds of appeals are finalists to be the next Indiana Court of Appeals judge.

Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice, Wabash Superior Judge Christopher Goff and Marion County public defender Patricia McMath prevailed from eight candidates interviewed Wednesday by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission.

For Altice and McMath, it’s the second time they’ve been finalists for appointment to the appellate bench. Both of their names were forwarded as finalists to Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012, when he appointed Judge Rudolph R. Pyle III to the COA.

For Gov. Mike Pence, he has 60 days after officially receiving the list of finalists to make his first appointment to the appellate bench. The person appointed will replace Judge Ezra Friedlander, who will retire from the court in August.

During his interview, Altice said he’d like to see a judicial performance commission in Indiana that evaluates the work of trial court and appellate judges and makes recommendations on retention. He’s seen how a model program works in Colorado to weed out judges whose performance is rated negatively by lawyers, jurors and litigants who appear before them.

Goff, the lone candidate from outside metro Indianapolis, said serving as a lawyer and judge in a small county would be an advantage if appointed to the Court of Appeals since he’s tried about every kind of case in 15 years in a court of general jurisdiction.

McMath told the commission that her voluminous experience of having tried hundreds of cases to the appellate bench and a level of mutual respect between her and judges would enable her to easily transition to the court if appointed.

The other candidates interviewed were:
•         Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon P.C., Indianapolis
•         Stephen R. Creason, Office of the Indiana Attorney General, Indianapolis
•         Judge Gary L. Miller, Marion Superior Court
•         David L. Pippen, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, Indianapolis
•         Joel M. Schumm, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis.

Read more about the interviews in the June 17-30, 2015, issue of Indiana Lawyer.

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