Hatcher: All Hoosiers should have the ability to elect their judges

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS — The House concurred today on House Bill 1453, which changes the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) from nine to seven voting members in Lake and St. Joseph counties only.

State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary), who has spoken out against this bill on several occasions, is disappointed that her colleagues in the Statehouse decided to continue to let a commission select judges for Hoosiers.

“The House had the chance to change our judicial selection process to an actual election process, and Republicans dismissed it,” Hatcher said. “Lake, St. Joseph, Marion and Vanderburgh counties — the counties with the largest minority populations — are being targeted by this unfair process of a nominating commission. All citizens should have the ability to select their judges and have some control of the bench that they appear in front of. These are their courts, their trials, and should be their judges.” 

In the rest of the 88 counties in Indiana, the people elect their local judges. In the remaining four counties, however, the JNC nominates and the governor appoints judges.

HB 1453 proposes to change the JNC to three voting members appointed by the governor, three voting members appointed by the county board of commissioners, and the chief justice of Indiana serving as the seventh member and chairperson to vote only in a tie. The original bill had changed the number of JNC members from nine to five with the governor appointing three of them, effectively giving the governor control of the commission.

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

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