Supreme Court press release letterhead
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2010
Contact: Kathryn Dolan
317.234.4722

INDIANA JUDGES VOTE TO REQUIRE MORE EDUCATION FOR THEMSELVES

Judge John Rader

Judicial Education Committee Chair, Warren Circuit Judge John Rader explains the proposed education requirements to the Judicial Conference of Indiana.

The Board of Directors of the Judicial Conference of Indiana voted unanimously in favor of enhanced education requirements for judges.  The Chair of the Judicial Education Committee, Warren Circuit Court Judge John Rader explained, “To be effective, a judge must continually improve his or her legal skills.  Our committee wants an increase in the number of required education hours for Indiana judges.  We are asking the Supreme Court to change the Court Rules to require enhanced education.”

Complete details on the proposed changes can be found below.  Basically, the proposal includes an increase in the number of education hours required for most judicial officers. 

Current Requirement

Proposed Requirement

At least 36 hours every 3 years

At least 54 hours every 3 years

6 hours each year

15 hours each year

No more than 12 hours of non-legal subjects

No more than 18 hours of non-legal subjects

3 ethics hours every 3 years

5 ethics hours every 3 years 

Currently, Indiana judges are required to obtain at least thirty-six hours per three-year reporting period.  To ensure continued learning the requirement cannot be met in one year.  Judicial officers must have at least six hours of continuing legal education (CLE) each year.  Also no more than twelve hours of the thirty-six hour requirement can be filled by non-legal subject matter courses. 

Under the proposed change, the Judicial Education Committee recommends the concept of continuing judicial education (CJE) for judicial officers rather than using CLE credits.  CLE requirements would remain in place for Indiana attorneys.  The enhanced educational requirement would be in place for “state level judicial officers” including Indiana Supreme Court justices, appellate level judges, trial judges, magistrates and full-time commissioners and referees. 

These “state level judicial officers” would be required to obtain at least fifty-four hours of CJE per three year reporting period.  Again, to ensure continued learning the requirement cannot be met in one year.  Judicial officers must have at least fifteen hours of continuing judicial education (CJE) each year.  In addition, the ethics/professional responsibility requirement would increase from three to five hours over the three-year reporting period.  Non-legal subject matter credit would be capped at eighteen hours and distance education at nine hours for this classification of judicial officers. 

Requirements for senior judges, part-time commissioners and referees, Marion County small claims judges and city/town court judges would not be changed under the proposal.  This group of judicial officers would still be required to obtain at least six hours of continuing judicial education (CJE) each year with no less than thirty-six hours per three-year reporting period, and no more than twelve hours non-legal subject matter courses or six hours of distance education can be reported.

The enhanced requirements are part of a larger plan to improve the Indiana Judicial Branch.  In September 2009 the Conference unveiled a strategic plan titled “A New Way Forward.”  The long-term plan sets priorities for the branch to improve professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency.  One recommendation in the plan includes enhanced education for judges.  Strategic Planning Co-Chairs Terry Shewmaker of Elkhart Circuit Court and Mark Stoner of Marion Superior Court support the requirement.  Judge Stoner explained, “Implementation of the strategic plan is moving forward.  The first step is to require enhanced education for judges which will ensure judges are given the tools to improve their skills and knowledge of the law.  Better educated judges will improve the quality of justice for citizens.”

The Judicial Conference of Indiana is made up of judges from across the state.  The board of the Conference serves as the governing board for Indiana judges.  The Indiana Judicial Center is the staff agency for the Judicial Conference.  After voting in favor of the enhanced requirements, the Conference Board sent the proposed changes to the Indiana Supreme Court to consider. Any change to the continuing education rules must be approved by the Indiana Supreme Court.  The Court will consider the proposed rule change and make a determination on whether to accept the enhanced requirement.  There is no timetable for the Court to make a decision.

 

 
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