7 COA candidates advance to second round of interviews

The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission has selected seven of 13 candidates to advance to the next round of interviews as the commission works to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Jason Bennett, Morgan County Judge Peter Foley, Putnam County Judge Matthew Headley, Abraham Navarro, Vigo County Judge Lakshmi Reddy, Lisa Reger and Leanna Weissmann were each selected to sit for the second round of interviews in July. From there, the JNC – led by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush – will submit the names of three finalists to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who will select the successor to Judge John Baker.

Baker is retiring July 31 after a total of 40 years in judicial service.

The semi-finalists were selected Wednesday evening following a full day of interviews, held remotely via Zoom amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the 13 candidates spoke with commissioners for 20 minutes, with topics ranging from judicial philosophy to law clerks to the ongoing racial protests and more.

Other candidates interviewed included Johnson County Judge Kevin Barton, Erin Berger, Joby Jerrells, Crystal Rowe, Terry Tolliver and Bartholomew County Judge James Worton.

The second round of interviews will be held July 1, and the Indiana Supreme Court has said it expects those interviews to be done in-person.

For more on the interviews, check back with the indianalawyer.com and see the June 24 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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