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History & Origins


While the Supreme Court of Indiana dates from the state's first Constitution adopted in 1816, the concept of a second appellate-level court to serve the entire state originated with an enactment of the General Assembly in 1891. The Appellate Court of Indiana was created to relieve the growing caseload of the Supreme Court.

The legislators foresaw it as a judicial panel to exist for six years to expedite an overflow of appellate cases. In 1897, the Court was retained for an additional four years, and in 1901, was re-created as the permanent Appellate Court. It evolved into an eight-member court which sat in panels consisting of four judges. The Appellate Court was abolished and today's Court of Appeals was created as a Constitutional Court by an amendment to the Indiana Constitution ratified on November 3, 1970, and came into existence on January 1, 1972.

The History of the Court of Appeals of Indiana

Indiana Law Review, Vol. 30:203, 1997
by Hon. Robert H. Staton and Gina M. Hicklin

Indiana Constitution

Article 7, Section 1. Judicial Power. The judicial power of the State shall be vested in one Supreme Court, one Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, and such other courts as the General Assembly may establish.

Article 7, Section 5. Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals shall consist of as many geographic districts and sit at such locations as the General Assembly shall determine to be necessary. Each geographic district of the Court shall consist of three judges. The judges of each geographic district shall appoint such personnel as the General Assembly may provide by law.

Article 7, Section 6. Jurisdiction of Court of Appeals. The Court shall have no original jurisdiction, except that it may be authorized by rules of the Supreme Court to review directly decisions of administrative agencies. In all other cases, it shall exercise appellate jurisdiction under such terms and conditions as the Supreme Court shall specify by rules which shall, however, provide in all cases an absolute right to one appeal and to the extent provided by rule, review and revision of sentences for defendants in all criminal cases.


The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is defined by constitutional provisions and by rules of the Supreme Court. These authorities have established the range of its powers to receive appeals from trial courts throughout Indiana and to interpret and decide questions of law that they raise.

The Court of Appeals may receive criminal cases in which trial court judgments impose sentences with imprisonment of 50 years or less and appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief in which the sentence is not death. The appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals includes all civil cases except those specifically reserved for the Supreme Court. Also, the Court of Appeals reviews decisions of administrative agencies, including the Worker's Compensation Board, the Department of Workforce Development and the Utility Regulatory Commission.


In 1971, the Indiana General Assembly established three geographic districts of approximately equal population for the Court of Appeals. This was accomplished for administrative purposes. The Court was served by nine judges, three from each geographic district. On March 2, 1978 and on January 1, 1991, two additional districts were established consisting geographically of the entire state. Judges were selected in three-member panels, one from each of the original geographic districts. The present Court consists of 15 judges. Appeals are assigned to rotating panels of three judges. Each panel has statewide jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals judges elect a chief judge and a presiding judge for each district. The chief judge and the presiding judges perform the administrative duties for the Court.

The courtroom and all judges' offices are located in Indianapolis. The courtroom and nine offices occupy a portion of the fourth floor of the Statehouse. Six offices and the administrative offices are housed on the 10th floor of the PNC Center downtown.

To be eligible to serve on the Court, a person must have been admitted to the practice of law in Indiana for a minimum of 10 years or have served as a trial court judge for at least five years.

View a Historical Listing of Court of Appeals Judges

Selection and Tenure

Judges serving the prior Appellate Court were subject to party nomination and statewide election at four-year intervals. Under the 1970 Constitutional Amendment, the Court of Appeals was established and a new process for the selection of judges was instituted.

New judgeships and vacancies are filled by appointment of the Governor from three nominees submitted by a seven-member, non-partisan Judicial Nominating Commission. Judges so appointed serve a minimum of two years before they are subject to the yes-or-no vote for retention at the next general election. The balloting is conducted by the electorate of the Court district which the judge serves. Those retained in office serve for 10 years and may then run for retention for additional 10-year terms. All judges must retire at age 75.

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