Indiana Supreme Court
Office of Judicial Administration
State House, Room 314
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Mary Willis
Chief Administrative Officer

Judicial Administration > Senior Judges > Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions

Who May Serve As a Senior Judge?

A former judge, magistrate, or commissioner appointed under IC 33-33-49 with the requisite amount of experience who wishes to serve as a senior judge must be annually certified by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission (IC 33-27-4-1) and annually appointed to the court(s) in which the senior judge is to serve.

How Do Senior Judges Get Certified?

Certification must be accomplished each year. To be certified, a former judge must file an application with the Judicial Nominating Commission. The Commission then certifies to the Supreme Court that the applicant has served as an elected or appointed judge, magistrate, or commissioner appointed under IC 33-33-49 for at least four (4) years and that at least one of those service years occurred within five years of the application. For returning senior judge applicants, the four years of service as an elected or appointed judge may be more than five (5) years prior to the application if he or she has served at least thirty (30) days as a senior judge during a calendar year within five (5) years of the application. (The Nominating Commission also may waive these criteria and certify a senior judge with less service, but only under exceptional circumstances.)

In addition to the judicial experience and timing criteria described above, the Nominating Commission must certify that the applicant:

  1. Agrees to serve as a senior judge for at least thirty (30) days in the year of appointment and has not in any previous year of service failed to serve for at least thirty (30) days without good cause;
  2. Agrees to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct;
  3. Agrees to not serve as an elected official or employee of a government entity or subdivision except with Supreme Court permission;
  4. Agrees to serve where assigned;
  5. Agrees to continue to serve in all special judge cases in which the former judge was serving as a special judge at the time the former judge left office without receiving senior judge credit for such service;
  6. Agrees not to practice law in the courts in which the senior judge is appointed or assigned as senior judge; and
  7. Is fit to serve as a senior judge.

Where Can Senior Judges Serve?

The Court of Appeals or a circuit, superior, county, tax or probate court may ask the Supreme Court to provide senior judge services. The number of days that a court receives the assistance of a senior judge days is based on caseload analysis. Regardless of caseload, however, every court may use a senior judge for at least 10 days during a year of appointment.

What Authority Does A Senior Judge Have?

During the days that a senior judge is serving in a court, a senior judge has the same jurisdiction as the presiding judge of the court where the judge is appointed to serve. In addition, a senior judge has jurisdiction at any time during the appointment to officiate at marriages. A senior judge also may retain jurisdiction in an individual case on the order of the presiding judge of the court in which the case is pending (Admin.Rule 5(B)(4)).

Unlike judges pro tempore, who are empowered to act only in the absence of the regular judge, senior judges may serve concurrently with the other judicial officers of the court in which they are appointed.

What Is the Compensation for Senior Judges?

The Indiana Supreme Court provides the compensation rate for senior judges in Administrative Rule 5. A senior judge receives $100 per day for the first 30 days of service in a calendar year and may be paid up to $250 per day for over 30 days of service if funding is available. Senior judges may not be paid as senior judges for more than 100 days per year.

Senior Judges who serve less than a full day are no longer required to accumulate time into whole day increments. A senior judge who serves less than the daily calendar of the court shall report only the fractional amount of the day served for payment and credit.

Senior Judges who serve as special judges are paid according to a schedule established by the Director of the Indiana Office of Court Services (Compensation Schedule). Senior Judges are not entitled to compensation for special judge service when the service is performed on the same day he or she serves as a senior judge.

In addition, those who serve more than 30 days per year may be considered state employees for purposes of state insurance benefits, including group health, life, dental and vision insurance benefits. This eligibility has, in time, served as an incentive for many former judges to serve as senior judges.

How Do Senior Judges Get Paid?

The Indiana Office of Court Services pays senior judge compensation. A senior judge must file a claim for compensation (Senior Judge Compensation Claims forms). The Office will then present the claim to the Auditor of State for payment. Claims for compensation must be made within 30 days of the date of service.