Much as a judge must decide the cases in front of her or him, on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 Posey County voters must decide whom to nominate to run in November’s general election for Circuit Court Judge. When a judge is deciding a case the first thing is to analyze the evidence. Voters can do the same thing before they cast their votes. Whether the office in question is President of the United States or Circuit Court Judge the process should be the same. Such things as relevant experience and prior good or bad behavior should be considered. But especially with judges there is no substitute for good character and mature judgment.
Judges decide the issues most dear to us. Such matters as who goes to jail, how children are reared and how property is divided are just a few of the countless critical issues a judge must determine. Voters must determine who can best untangle these often thorny cases.
If you have followed this column, you know I have often written about the process of judging and what makes a good judge. However, after more than 37 years of my own experience as judge where I have observed and dealt with countless judges I am convinced that the most vital qualification for judging is good character. Of course, voters should consider a judicial candidate’s honesty, background, experience, past successes or failures and good or bad behavior, but the most important factor in evaluating a potential judge is character. Without good character nothing else matters. With good character other deficiencies can be overcome.
While politics should never play a role in a judge’s decisions, Indiana requires in most of our 92 counties that judges be nominated by a political party. I think this is not the best system of judicial selection, but such matters are within the Legislative Branch’s authority. And, since I believe in democracy and I think democracy works best with a clear separation of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches, I must defer decisions on the method of selecting judges to the Legislature.
So that means on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 Posey County must select judicial candidates for the general election in November. The Posey County Republican Party has already determined that Attorney Craig Goedde will be the Republican candidate. Congratulations to him.
As for the Democrat Party, which has honored me with its nomination for judge seven times, a judicial nominee for this election is still needed. With the criteria referred to earlier in mind I respectfully suggest Attorney Trent Van Haaften would be an excellent choice. I have known Mr. Van Haaften since he and our son played Pony League baseball together on a team his father and I helped coach. They also played football together for Mt. Vernon High School from which they graduated in 1983. Mr. Van Haaften was president of their Senior Class. I can speak about him from long-time personal knowledge. Of course, each voter should decide for themselves.
Both Mr. Van Haaften and Mr. Goedde are hardworking and knowledgeable attorneys who have handled many cases before me and I know them both personally. Each has mature judgment and sound character. Either would work well with the unopposed and excellent candidates for Prosecuting Attorney, Travis Clowers, and Sheriff, Tom Latham. I would have confidence Posey County’s legal system would continue to well serve all of us if either is elected judge.