As the Marion County Judicial Selection Committee prepares to conduct its first judicial retention interviews later this month, the committee also has begun accepting applications to fill upcoming vacancies created by three judges not seeking retention.
Committee chair and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa announced Thursday that applications to fill the impending vacancies are now available online and are due by April 9. The committee will select three names for each vacancy to send to Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration. Holcomb will then choose three of those names to replace retiring judges Thomas Carroll and Rebekah Pierson-Treacy, Democrats, and Michael Keele, a Republican.
The judicial application package includes six components: an application, writing samples, a waiver form, a statement of economic interests, a photo and optional letters of recommendation. The application includes standard questions about an applicant’s legal and/or judicial career, public service and judicial temperament, but also asks for information related to an applicant’s work toward furthering diversity in Marion County.
Specifically, applicants are asked to describe how they reflect the diversity and make-up of the county — which has the highest percentage minority population of any Indiana county — and how they promote diversity within their social clubs and organizations. These questions are particularly pertinent in light of criticism of the county’s judicial selection committee by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, which has warned that prohibiting voters from electing judges could lead to an equal protection or Voting Rights Act challenge.
Members of the Black Legislative Caucus spoke against the creation of the 14-member committee during the 2017 legislation session, when lawmakers created the Marion County judicial selection panel to replace the now-invalidated judicial slating process. Only Marion, Allen, Lake and St. Joseph Counties — which have the highest minority populations in the state — have judicial selection panels.
The committee will interview applicants to fill the three vacancies on May 21 and, if necessary, May 22, before sending nine total names to the governor. Meanwhile, 17 judges are preparing for the county’s first judicial retention interviews on March 12 and 13.