Lake County JNC seeks applicants to succeed judge not seeking retention

The Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission is now accepting applications to fill an upcoming vacancy in the Lake Superior Court.

Applications to fill the vacancy that will occur on the County Division, Room 4 bench when Judge Jesse M. Villalpando retires are now available online. Completed applications must be submitted through the Indiana Courts Portal by 4 p.m. CST Monday, Nov. 5. In a notice announcing the applications, commission secretary R. Cordell Funk advised applicants “not to wait until the last day to submit their applications in order to avoid any problems in navigating the Courts Portal and submitting the completed application.”

The Lake JNC, led by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Slaughter, will meet to interview applicants on Dec. 3 and, if necessary, Dec. 4. The commission is tasked with submitting the names of “the three most highly qualified candidates from among all those eligible” to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who will make the final judicial appointment.

The announcement of the Lake County applications comes after the Indiana Supreme Court justices removed Villalpando’s name from the Nov. 6 retention ballot. The judge informed the court he would retire rather than seek retention because he did not think it would be “open and honest with the voters of Lake County to stand for retention knowing full well that he does not intend to serve another term beginning January 1, 2019, if retained.” A petition filed by Villalpando’s attorney said the judge wanted to resign due to a “substantial change in circumstances.”

Villalpando announced his decision not to seek retention two months after the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration filed a petition asking the high court to appoint a temporary replacement for Villalpando, citing dereliction of duty and complaining of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories involving court officials. The judge then announced he would take leave for the remainder of his term beginning Oct. 1, and a judge pro tempore was appointed in his place.

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