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Judicial Selection

How judges are selected in Indiana

The judges in your local courthouse all serve 6-year terms, but how they earn their seat on the bench varies depending on your county. In most Indiana counties, judges run for election similar to a state legislator or a mayor. When a judge leaves office for any reason during their term, the Governor chooses a replacement. In circuit courts, the replacement must run in the next general election; in superior courts, replacements complete the remainder of the unfinished term. Lawyers may apply to the Governor to be considered for the position.

When there is a judicial vacancy in Allen, Lake, Marion or St. Joseph counties, lawyers may apply to fill the seat rather than run in an election. A local judicial nominating commission reviews the applications, interviews the candidates, and selects the best as finalists. There are decorum rules for press and public during interviews. The Governor then appoints one of the finalists to fill the open position. After their first term, these judges then run for retention in the general election, allowing voters to decide whether or not to keep them on the bench. This is similar to how appellate judges are selected and retained in Indiana.