STATEHOUSE (Feb. 2, 2017) — The Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday, which would create a new system for selecting judges in Marion County, according to the bill’s author, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon).
House Bill 1036 would create a 14-member selection commission, who would vet and nominate three judicial candidates when a vacancy occurs. The sitting governor would then appoint one of the nominees to fill the vacancy.
“As home to the state capital, Marion County’s courts are unique in that they have certain jurisdiction in cases that come from all over Indiana,” Steuerwald said. “The commission created through this legislation would help ensure a diverse, qualified bench while limiting the influence of either political party. Aiming for a judiciary that represents the makeup of Marion County while also balancing the distinct responsibilities of these courts is a key goal of this bipartisan bill.”
Four of the commission members would be appointed by Indiana House and Senate leaders from both parties. The Marion County Democratic and Republican parties would each appoint two members, one of which must be a minority or a woman, or both. The Indianapolis Bar Association, Marion County Bar Association, Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana and the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association would each appoint one member. One judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals and one Indiana Supreme Court justice would round out the committee.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the current system for selecting judges in Marion County is unconstitutional because it prohibited a meaningful vote for judicial selection.
The current 36 Marion County judges would be split into three retention classes, based on judicial seniority. The first class of 12 judges would be up for retention elections on the 2020 ballot; the second class on the 2022 ballot; and the final class on the 2024 ballot. After their election, each judge who is retained would serve a six-year term.
The bill also mandates that the commission must take into account whether the judicial candidate reflects the diversity and makeup of Marion County.
The legislation is co-authored by Speaker of the House Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), and State Reps. Dave Frizzell (R-Indianapolis) and Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis).
The bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration.
State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) represents House District 40, which is a portion of Hendricks County.
A high-resolution photo of Steuerwald can be downloaded by clicking here.