The Marion County Judicial Selection Committee is inviting current Marion County judges to submit their applications for retention, marking the first time merit selection will be used to choose or retain judges in Indiana’s largest county.
The four-page retention application was developed by the 14-member committee, which is chaired by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa. The application asks for general information, such as educational history, county of residence and writing samples, but also seeks information about a judge’s judicial temperament and personality traits that might affect their work.
Further, the application asks judges to share information that is “pertinent to the question of how you reflect the diversity and makeup of Marion County.” That question is particularly poignant in light of criticism of the merit selection system from the entire Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, whose members warned that depriving voters of Marion County – which has the highest percentage of minority residents in the state – of the ability to elect their judges could lead to an equal protection or Voting Rights Act challenge.
Despite that criticism, the Judicial Selection Committee was created by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017 in response to a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down Marion County’s previous slating system, which essentially guaranteed an equal division of Democratic and Republican judges. The composition requirements for the commission’s 14 members, as well as their duties, are governed by Indiana Code sections 33-33-49-13.1 to -13.7.
In addition to submitting the county retention application to the committee, the Indiana Supreme Court is encouraging Marion County judges to consult state statute to determine what documents they must also submit to the Indiana Secretary of State and the Marion County Clerk’s Office.
The committee’s retention application can be downloaded here.