Indiana: the beginning of the end of non-attorney judges in the state

Like most states, Indiana had for decades allowed non-attorneys to serve as judges in at least some courts, previously in the (now disbanded) Justice of the Peace courts and most recently in Town and City Courts. However, the Indiana legislature earlier this month approved, and the state’s governor has now signed, what is the beginning of the end of non-attorney judges in the state.

Under current law adopted in 1998 (IC 33-35-5-7) only judges in 10 towns and cities must be an attorney. Under HB 1110 all new Town and City judges elected in the future must be an attorney. As has occurred when similar efforts were made in other states such as Georgia Municipal Courts in 2011 there is a grandparent clause: all non-attorney Town and City judges currently in office can remain and even be re-elected, but those who follow must be lawyers.