A 2002 graduate of Columbus East High School will begin her new job as Bartholomew County’s new juvenile magistrate beginning June 1.
Brittney Manley Newland was sworn in Friday by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin.
Newland will handle multiple matters such as paternity, delinquency and termination of parental rights for those under age 18. The juvenile magistrate also handles all cases that fall under the jurisdiction of CHINS (Children In Need of Services), a program designed to benefit a child whose well-being has been seriously impaired or in danger through child abuse and neglect.
“To trust someone with the responsibilities of being a juvenile judge is huge,” Benjamin said. “So I looked for someone who takes the job seriously, but loves children, loves life and has a good sense of humor. But it also requires someone who is intelligent and strong who will push at times to make sure right things happen.”
The 37-year-old Newland fits all of the requirements, Benjamin said.
Newland succeeds Lindsey Holden-Kay, who stepped down from the bench last October to run for Bartholomew County prosecutor and won the GOP nomination early this month. Since Holden-Kay’s departure, the position has been filled by various special judges, court officials said.
A former student athlete, Newland earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in just over three years, with a minor in criminal justice.
After obtaining her master’s degree in clinical psychology, Newland was accepted into a doctorate program, but eventually stepped down in order to start a family, she said. However, she did spend a semester as an intern law clerk for now-Senior Judge Stephen Heimann in Bartholomew Circuit Court. And from 2009 to 2011, Newland worked as the Pretrial Release Probation Officer for Bartholomew County Court Services.
Indianapolis attorney James H. Voyles, Jr. said he remembers the first time he was made aware of Newland was when he received a phone call from a friend, a former Bartholomew Superior Court 1 judge.
“Chris Monroe called me one day, and said he knows a young woman who is a probation officer who is going to go to law school,” Voyles said. “I think you ought to at least talk to her, Chris said, if you would be inclined to have a new law clerk at your office.”
After meeting with attorneys of what was then Voyles, Zahn and Paul, Newland was hired as a law clerk, Voyles said. Her background in both probation and psychology helped make her work for the firm exceptional, he said.
Upon graduating from the Indiana University McKinney School of Law and being admitted to the bar in 2014, Newland began her practice with the same attorneys she clerked for. Only the name of the law firm was changed to Voyles, Vaiana, Lukemeyer, Baldwin &Webb.
One of the lawyers she worked with was defense attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer, who spoke from her Indianapolis office via Zoom video conferencing during Friday’s swearing-in ceremony.
While Newland always put her two daughters first, she was extremely good at balancing her personal life with her dedication to her practice, Lukemeyer said.
“Brittney is so intuitive when it comes to the needs and issues of others,” she added. “Brittney is a good listener and problem-solver with a fair amount of subjectivity, but also balances the law with objectivity in order to do the right thing.”
Newland assisted her boss when he successfully defended Columbus native and retired race car driver Tony Stewart in regard to the 2014 death of fellow driver Kevin Ward, Voyles said.
While her private practice included criminal law, Newland also gained extensive experience in represented those involved in Child In Need of Services (CHINS) cases, as well as representing clients through child custody and child support matters.
“I cannot think of a more perfect person for this role in this current situation,” said Columbus attorney Laura Raiman who will work as a public defender in Newland’s court.
One of the nearly 20 people who attended Friday’s ceremony suggested Newland’s love for her own daughters has left her with a soft spot in her heart for children.
However, Newland suggested that children are often underestimated by adults.
“Any time we can give kids the tools to make better choices and be strong with their own voice is good,” Newland said. “I think there’s a lot of things that we tend to shy away from teaching kids because of the content or maturity, but sometimes it’s important to at least expose them to some tough topics early on. That way, when they come across those topics in the real world, they may already have an idea of how to handle it.”