When Ernest Yelton began his duties today as the new Executive Director of the Indiana Gaming Commission in Indianapolis, he automatically forfeited his responsibilities as Circuit Court Judge of Clay County. The Indiana statute defines in a job description that the Executive Director of Gaming Commission shall hold no other office. Also by statute, a judge is prohibited from having two lucrative government positions at the same time.
According to the Indiana Election Division, when a Circuit Court Judge seat is vacated, the governor appoints someone to serve until the next general election or for the remainder of the term, whichever occurs first. The person elected at the next general election will serve a six-year term.
Jan Jankowski from Governor Mitch Daniels Press Office said last week that finding a new Circuit Court Judge is one of the governor's priorities. However, there are no established guidelines as to how the process should proceed.
Apparently the governor can fill the position by whatever process he chooses. He can simply pick a qualified individual and immediately appoint that person. Or he can accept applications and go through an interview process before appointing someone. The latter is most commonly done and that takes time.
The only designated qualifications for the position are that the person chosen must be an attorney and reside in the county with the vacancy.
Jankowski said since the governor just took office Jan. 10 and his staff is new, she does not know what method he'll use or what the time frame for the appointment will be.
A temporary solution has been provided. Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers said that Yelton advised him over the weekend that Randall T. Shepard, Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, appointed Dexter Bolin to temporarily serve as Clay Circuit Court Judge until the vacancy is filled by the Governor. Bolin is a Senior Judge and the former Vigo County Circuit Court Judge.