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 County, 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. 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.
Learn more about judicial selection:
- Allen County - see Indiana Code 33-33-2-32 to 33-33-2-45
- Lake County - see Indiana Code 33-33-45-27 to 33-33-45-42
- Marion County - see Indiana Code 33-33-49-13.1 to 33-33-49-13.7
- St. Joseph County - see Indiana Code 33-33-71-29 to 33-33-71-43
- Appellate Courts - see Indiana Code 33-27
Justice Massa submits finalists to Governor
(June 13, 2018 letter)
Selection Committee names finalists for Marion County judicial positions
(May 23, 2018 press release)
Marion County judicial applicant interviews May 21-23
(April 30, 2018 press release)
Letters of Recommendation for Applicants
- Letters of recommendation may be sent by the author directly to the Selection Committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The letter should be saved as a PDF file and should include the applicant's and author's first and last names in the file name; for example: JohnDoeLetterFromJaneSmith.pdf
- Letters will be forwarded to each Commission member; letters sent to individual Committee members will be distributed to all other members.
- Judges and other judicial officers are not prohibited under the Code of Judicial Conduct from writing on behalf of candidates on the basis of personal knowledge of the candidates' qualifications.
- Letters of recommendation must be received one week prior to the interviews (please note that a complete copy of all letters of recommendation received on a candidate's behalf will be provided to the candidate prior to the interview).
40 applicants for Marion County judicial positions
(April 10, 2018 press release)
Marion County judges qualified by Commission
(March 13, 2018 press release)
Policies and Procedures for the Marion County Judicial Selection Committee
(Posted November 21, 2017)
St. Joseph County