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Indy judge selection bill set for Wednesday hearing

January 26, 2016

A proposed merit-selection plan giving state lawmakers a strong hand in the nomination and appointment of Marion Superior judges will be introduced Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bipartisan proposal would create a unique system of merit selection for the 36 judges who currently are elected under a system the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional in September.

Senate Bill 352 is authored by Republican Sens. Michael Young and Brent Waltz and Democratic Sen. Greg Taylor, each of whom represent districts that include portions of Marion County. Unlike the seven- and nine-member judicial nominating commissions in Allen, Lake and St. Joseph counties, the proposed commission for Marion County would be half lawmakers, include six seats split between the major county political parties, and include no requirement for non-lawyer members.

In the past, the Marion County Democratic and Republican parties received financial contributions from judicial candidates it slated as its choices for primary voters.

The 16-member commission for selecting Indianapolis judges proposed under SB 352 would include:

  • Eight members of the General Assembly whose districts include part of Marion County. Two members each would be chosen by the House speaker, House minority leader, Senate president pro tem and Senate minority leader;
  • Three members each appointed by the chairperson of the Marion County Democratic and Republican parties;
  • The president of the Indianapolis Bar Association or the president’s designee; and,
  • The president of the Marion County Bar Association or the president’s designee.

The committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 130 of the Statehouse.

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