Indiana high court retained by voters

Legal News Line Nov. 4, 2008, 6:24pm

Randall Shepard

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline)--Change may be among the most prolific words used this campaign season, but Indiana voters stayed the course with a majority of state Supreme Court seats up for election.

According to early results provided by the Indiana Secretary of State, all three incumbents will overwhelmingly be approved by voters Tuesday night. The victory gives each justice another 10-year term.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard, along with fellow Justices Brent Dickson and Theodore Boehm enjoyed wide margins in their respective "retention" elections.

Early polling numbers showed voters all three justices with roughly 70 percent of voters choosing yes to retain them on the ballots.

Indiana law requires its five judges run in staggered elections, but not against an opponent. Instead voters vote yes or no to retain them. No Indiana state Supreme Court has even lost a retention election, a streak continued on Tuesday.

The Indiana State Bar Association survey should each of the five judges enjoy an 83 to 90 percent approval rating with the more than 1,500 attorneys who participated.

Indiana's unique system stands in contrast to many other states that elect judges in contested elections. But such elections have led to wide-spread concern of undue influence and partisan politics overshadowing legal experience as judges increasingly need to raise money for contested elections.

Indiana's system is a hybrid of judicial appointment and retention votes that is designed to reduce political influence on the bench, but also allow for voter accountability.

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