At long last, Clark County gets two new judges

A public defender and an attorney with the Indiana Department of Child Services have been appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to serve as judges in Clark County’s two new superior courts.

Abraham F.A. Navarro, the chief public defender in the Southern Indiana County, and Kyle P. Williams, chief counsel in Region 15 for DCS, will preside over the county’s first superior courts. Clark currently has four circuit courts and handles one of the highest caseloads in Indiana.

According to the News and Tribune,  the new courts will initially be designated as superior which allows Holcomb to appoint the first judges. Navarro and Williams will serve at least until the November 2024 election. Then on Jan. 1, 2025, the courts will change to circuit.

Navarro and Williams were among eight candidates who applied for the new judgeships, the News and Tribune reported. Both earned their undergraduate degrees from Indiana University. Navarro received his J.D. from Vermont School of Law and a master of liberal arts from Harvard University, while Williams obtained his law degree from the University of Louisville.

Williams joined DCS in 2017 after being in private practice. He unsuccessfully ran for the Circuit Court 1 seat in 2020.

The seat was formerly held by Andrew Adams who got into an early morning fight and was shot in the spring of 2019 while attending a state judicial conference in Indianapolis. He eventually pled guilty to one misdemeanor battery charge and had his law license suspended with automatic reinstatement in January 2020.

Adams lost his bid for reelection in 2020 to Dan Moore. The results were a reverse of the 2014 election when Moore was ousted from the bench by Adams.

Navarro was appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels to be a Clark County judge in 2008 but he stepped down from the bench a year later to rejoin the Floyd County Prosecutor’s office. He has led the Clark County public defender agency since 2016 and in 2020, he was among the semifinalists for the Indiana Court of Appeals’ vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Baker.

Judge Leanna Weissmann was selected by Holcomb to fill the COA seat.

Clark County has long asked for new courts from the Legislature. In 2019, the jurisdiction was just about to gain two new circuit courts when a last-minute amendment caused House Bill 1155 to stumble. The new language, offered by Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, would have let the appointed judges serve for more than five years before facing the voters. However, former Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin, wanted the new judges to be on the ballot in the 2020 election.

The Legislature returned to the matter in 2020 and passed Senate Enrolled Act 256 which included a provision creating the two new courts in Clark County.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}