Voters will decide Nov. 6 who will be the next judge of Bartholomew Superior Court I. Republican Jim Worton and independent Joe Meek are vying for the job. The winner will replace Judge Chris Monroe, who was defeated in the primary.
Office Sought: Judge of Bartholomew Superior Court 1
Party affiliation: Independent
Address: Wheaton Court, Columbus
Occupation: Magistrate of Bartholomew Superior Court 2
Education: J.D., Pettit College Of Law at Ohio Northern University, 1989; B.A., political science and history, University Of Indianapolis, 1986; Columbus East High School, 1982.
Prior elected offices held: None
Prior elected offices sought: None
Family: Wife, Carla Meek; daughters, Haley and Katlin Meek
Community involvement: Community Church of Columbus; Youth Advisory Council at Community Church; Little Lambs Child Care Ministry advisory board; assistant coach, Parks and Recreation and Columbus Express Soccer Club; announcer, Columbus North women's soccer; Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee; Six Sigma team, Cummins Inc.; helped implement video conferencing system between the Bartholomew County Jail and the Bartholomew County Courthouse; drafted alternative dispute resolution plan for Bartholomew County Courts; helped revise local rules of practice for the county courts.
Main message of candidacy: When it comes to being a judge, experience matters, and I have the judicial experience to be ready to be judge on day one.
How would Superior I operate under your control, and what changes, if any, would you make?
My vision for Superior Court 1 is to create a professional environment where all cases are considered important, where respectful and courteous behavior is expected, where everyone gets a fair hearing and where the rule of law, not politics, guides the court’s decisions. One of the things I would do is to develop a schedule that allows the parties enough time to present their evidence and testimony while still effectively and efficiently managing the rest of the court’s calendar. Cases that can be easily resolved or that involve procedural issues could be set every day in the morning. Cases that require more time could then be heard in the afternoon. I would use pretrial scheduling conferences to establish firm and agreed dates for hearings. I would take full advantage of the video-conferencing system between the Bartholomew County Jail and the courthouse. I would continue to work with the Six Sigma team from Cummins Inc. to see how we can make the court more efficient. I would use the county website to provide helpful information about the court. This would include creating a frequently asked questions tab, having a tab where various court forms are located, creating a form for contacting the court and providing links to other helpful resources.
Bartholomew County has used a unified court services approach since the 1990s. Recently, the county’s Youth Services Center was realigned under the direction of Bartholomew County Corrections. What are the benefits of a unified system, and what are examples of ways county residents are impacted by a unified system?
A unified court services system means that the services and programs the court uses to supervise someone who has been convicted of a crime and all or a part of their sentence has been suspended are under one umbrella. The first benefit of a unified court services system is that there is a consistent approach for everyone who is placed on probation or in community corrections. Our goal is to try to fashion a sentence the helps reduce the risk that the person will not commit another crime. As a result, we must be sure that the programs and services we provide actually work. A unified court services system ensures that we are providing services and programs that make a difference and also change a person’s thinking and behavior. The second benefit is that services are not duplicated. The third benefit is that a unified court services system allows us to develop innovative and effective programs. A unified approach to providing programs and services to those who have been sentenced should make our community safer.
Beyond settling court cases, what roles can and should judges play in the county?
I firmly believe that a judge should work just as hard outside the courtroom to make Bartholomew County a better place to live and work as the judge does inside the courtroom. The Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct encourages judges to be appropriately active in the community. Every spring, it is my pleasure to have the third-grade classes from Parkside stop by for a tour of the courthouse. I have also been privileged to discuss the constitution with eighth-graders at Northside Middle School and to talk about being a judge at Central Middle School’s career day. Likewise, I have enjoyed speaking with various community groups about the law and the court system.
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