What is the Judicial Nominating Commission?
In 1970, the Indiana Constitution was amended to create the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission. The Amendment took effect on January 1, 1972. By Constitution and statute, the Nominating Commission is charged with vetting applications and submitting a list of the three most qualified applicants to the Governor for each vacancy that occurs on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Tax Court. The Governor then appoints an individual from that list to fill the vacancy.
How are the members of the Judicial Nominating Commission selected?
The composition of the Commission is governed by Article 7, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution and I.C. § 33-27-2 et seq. The Nominating Commission consists of seven members: three attorney members, three non-lawyer members, and the Chief Justice of Indiana or a Justice of the Supreme Court whom the Chief Justice may designate. The Chief Justice or his designee serves as the ex officio Chairman of the Commission. An attorney and a non-attorney representative are chosen from each of three geographic districts of the Court of Appeals. Attorney members serve three-year staggered terms, after being elected by the attorneys in their respective districts. The Governor appoints the non-attorney members, one from each of the Districts, to serve three-year terms. Other than the Chief Justice or his designee, all Commission members must reside during their tenure within the district from where they were appointed or elected.
Are there any limits on who can be a member of the Nominating Commission?
The State Constitution sets other limits regarding who may serve on the Nominating Commission. No member of the Nominating Commission, other than the Chief Justice or his designee, may hold any other salaried public office, and no member may hold an office in a political party or organization. Article 7, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution further indicates that no member of the Nominating Commission is eligible for appointment to a judicial office during the member’s tenure with the Commission and for a period of three years after the expiration of his/her term.
Who is currently on the Nominating Commission?
See Commission Members webpage
How does the Nominating Commission select its nominees?
Typically, the Commission first publicly announces the vacancy and solicits applications for the position. After selecting appropriate applicants for further consideration, the Commission conducts background checks, publicly interviews the selected candidates, and deliberates in private about the candidates’ qualifications. I.C. § 33-27-3 et seq. By statute, the Commission is required to consider each candidate’s legal education, legal writings, reputation in the practice of law, physical ability to do the job, financial interests (for conflict-of-interest purposes), public service activities, and any other pertinent information the Commission feels is important to select the most qualified candidates. See I.C. § 33-27-3-2. The Commission then votes in a public session for the three top nominees and submits a report to the Governor with a summary of the three nominee’s qualifications. The Governor then has 60 days to make the final appointment.
Are there any procedures that the Governor must follow before making his selection?
No, the Governor has no restrictions in the steps he may use in making his appointment. He may interview each of the three candidates and conduct whatever process he deems appropriate in making his final decision.
What happens if the Governor doesn’t make a selection within 60 days?
Indiana Code § 33-27-3-4 and Indiana Constitution, Article 7, Section 10, provide that if the Governor does not make an appointment within 60 days, then the Chief Justice of Indiana or the acting Chief Justice is required to make a selection from the list of three nominees. To date, this provision has never been invoked, as no Indiana Governor has forfeited his power to appoint a justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
Who selects the Chief Justice?
Article 7, Section 3 of the Indiana Constitution provides that the Chief Justice of Indiana shall be selected by the Judicial Nominating Commission from the members of the Supreme Court. Once selected, the Chief Justice serves a five-year term as the chief justice.
What happens if there is a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice?
The Indiana Constitution provides that if there is a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice “caused by absence, illness, incapacity or resignation,” then all powers and duties of the office of Chief Justice are transferred to the member of the Supreme Court who is the most senior in length of service. See Ind. Const., Art. 7, Sec. 3. The acting Chief Justice serves as chief until the cause of the vacancy is terminated or the position is filled by the Nominating Commission.
How many different Chief Justices have been selected by the Nominating Commission?
Five. Chief Justice Norman F. Arterburn was selected in 1973 and served until 1975. The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission then selected Justice Richard M. Givan in 1975 to serve as the next Chief Justice, and he served in that capacity, after two reappointments, until 1987. At that time, the Nominating Commission selected Justice Randall T. Shepard to be Chief Justice of Indiana. Chief Justice Shepard served as the Supreme Court’s leader for twenty-five years, having been reappointed by the Commission four times in 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007. Justice Brent E. Dickson, served as Chief Justice, May 2012 to August 2014. Justice Loretta H. Rush, the current Chief Justice, was sworn into the leadership position in August 2014.
How many Indiana justices have been appointed under the merit selection system?
Thirteen. Justice Alfred Pivarnik, who joined the Indiana Supreme Court in 1977 and served through October 1993, was the first justice selected under the nonpolitical merit selection system. Besides the five current justices, the other justices selected under this system are Justice Jon Krahulik, who served from December 1990 to October 1993; Justice Myra C. Selby, who served from January 1995 to October 1999; Justice Theodore R. Boehm, who served from August 1996 to September 2010; Justice Randall T. Shepard who served from September 1985 to March 2012 and as chief justice from March 1987 to March 2012; Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr., who served from Nov. 1, 1993 to July 31, 2012; Justice Brent E. Dickson who served from January 1, 1986 to April 29, 2016 and as Chief Justice from May 2012 to August 2014; and Justice Robert D. Rucker, who served from November 19, 1999 to May 12, 2017.
List of Judicial Nominating Commission’s Supreme Court Nominees since 1984
Justice Donald Hunter’s Vacancy – 1985
Hon. Raymond Thomas Green
Patrick Woods Harrison
*Hon. Randall T. Shepard
Justice Dixon Prentice’s Vacancy – 1986
Hon. Robert Staton
Lila J. Cornell
Justice Alfred Pivarnik’s Vacancy – 1990
Hon. John G. Baker
Hon. Jeanne M. Jourdan
*Jon D. Krahulik
Justice Jon Krahulik’s Vacancy – 1993
Hon. Betty A. Barteau
Hon. James S. Kirsch
*Frank Sullivan, Jr.
Justice Richard Givan's Vacancy - 1994
Hon. Betty A. Barteau
Anne Marie Sedwick
*Myra C. Selby
Justice Roger DeBruler Vacancy – 1996
*Theodore R. Boehm
Hon. Sanford M. Brook
Hon. Edward W. Najam, Jr.
Justice Myra Selby’s Vacancy – 1999
Mary Beth Ramey
*Hon. Robert D. Rucker
Hon. Nancy H. Vaidik
Justice Theodore Boehm’s Vacancy – 2010
*Hon. Steven H. David
Karl L. Mulvaney
Hon. Robyn L. Moberly
Justice Randall T. Shepard's Vacancy - 2012
Hon. Cale J. Bradford
*Mark S. Massa
Jane A. Seigel
Justice Frank Sullivan's Vacancy - 2012
Hon. Steve R. Nation
*Hon. Loretta H. Rush
Geoffrey G. Slaughter
Justice Brent Dickson’s Vacancy – 2016
Hon. Steven L. Hostetler
Hon. Matthew C. Kincaid
*Geoffrey G. Slaughter
Justice Robert Rucker's Vacancy – 2017
Hon. Vicki L. Carmichael
*Hon. Christopher M. Goff
Hon. Matthew C. Kincaid
* Candidate selected by the Governor