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The St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission is beginning the process of selecting a new superior court judge. A vacancy on the St. Joseph Superior Court will occur on May 31, 2021 when Judge Margot Reagan retires from her position.

Commission Chairperson and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Christopher Goff announced applications for the position are available online and must be submitted through the Indiana Courts Portal by March 19 at 12:00 p.m. (EDT).

Indiana Code (sections 33-33-71-29 to 33-33-71-43) identifies the requirements for the Commission’s work. It must submit to the Governor “the five most highly qualified candidates from among those eligible” for appointment when a vacancy arises. The Commission is required to consider applicants’ legal experience and probable judicial temperament, without consideration of political affiliation.

The names and written evaluations of the candidates applying for the office must remain confidential. Therefore, a public meeting is not convened because the names of the candidates would be publicly known through that meeting, violating the statute. However, the Commission is required to publicly disclose the list of five nominees that are submitted to the Governor with a written evaluation of their qualifications. The names will be made available when the Commission determines the finalists, and the evaluations will be posted online.

There are 22 judges and approximately 50,000 newly filed cases each year in St. Joseph County. According to the statute, the Commission is required to promptly work to fill a judicial vacancy.

The Commission members include Charles Leone, James (Jay) Lewis, Karen Barnett, Joseph Grabill, and Justice Christopher Goff (Chairperson). On February 3, 2021, an attorney-elected Commission member, Charles Lahey, resigned. The Clerk of St. Joseph County must provide at least 90 days’ notice to attorneys in St. Joseph County to hold an election to fill Lahey’s vacancy. For questions about the election, contact Clerk Rita Glenn at 574-235-9635. Non-attorney member Dr. David Hooker will not be participating in Commission business until pending litigation is resolved.

Information about the pending litigation (case number 50C01-2012-PL-000024) can be found at mycase.in.gov or through the attorneys on the matter.

Information about the vacancy can found at courts.in.gov/selection/stjoseph-2021-march/.

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