Friday, February 10, 2012

Local Attorney Paul Ogden to Seek Republican Nomination as Marion County Superior Court Judge

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters,

Today I filed with the Secretary of State's Office to run for Marion County Superior Court judge in the May 2012 primary.

Growing up on a farm outside Madison, Indiana, I never thought my career path would lead to running for judge.  One of five sons of a factory worker/small time farmer and a secretary, I certainly learned the value of hard work and dedication.  There is nothing like stacking hay on a wagon in 95 degree heat to build a work ethic.

My brothers and I fortunately were the first generation in my family to have the chance to pursue education beyond high school.  For me that included a year at Hanover College followed by three at Ball State University.  At Ball State, I majored in political science and spent a semester interning in the Indiana State Senate.  After graduating from Ball State, I went to Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.  In law school, I served as editor of the school newspaper and president of the Student Bar Association.

After graduating from law school in 1987, I became a Deputy Attorney General, representing the then Indiana Department of Highways in eminent domain and employment matters.  The work experience though that most impacted me though was when I began clerking with Judge Buchanan on the Indiana Court of Appeals.  I spent 3 1/2 years at the Court doing legal research and writing draft legal opinions.  The experience of writing judicial opinions and having the late Judge Paul H. Buchanan as a mentor was a life-changing experience.

After leaving the Court, I worked on my own as well as at a couple law firms, including the minority- owned Roberts & Bishop, where I still have many friends today.  Along the way, I was general counsel for Midwest Title Insurance Company and led the development of a division regulating title insurance at the Indiana Department of Insurance.  I have seen about everything there is to see in my 24 years plus of practicing law.

I have also been very politically involved.  In 1986, I became a Republican precinct committeeman in Pike Township.  I have also served as a Vice Ward Chairman, a Ward Chairman, President of the Pike Township GOP Club and have worked on a number of campaigns as well as run for office myself.   I also have taught political science at both IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis.  When I haven't been busy doing that, I've also done some writing, winning the First Place Award for "Issues Writing" from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists several years ago for an article I wrote on grading ISTEP exams that appeared in the Indianapolis Monthly.

While I believe wholeheartedly in my Marion County Republican Party, I am disappointed that the power and authority of grass roots party workers has been virtually eliminated in favor of party bosses calling the shots.  When I first started in 1986, party workers still had real influence and elected officials knew they had to stay in touch with those workers to be endorsed by the party.  Slating conventions featured numerous races that had had multiple candidates eagerly seeking out the support of party workers. 

A couple weeks ago, the Marion County GOP had a slating convention at which 16 of 17 races were uncontested.  The only contested race was for Superior Court Judge.  In that race, several Republican judicial candidates had withdrawn before slating with the exception of Judge Carol Orbison.  Judge Orbison said during her speech to the convention that she was told a committee of power brokers had met before slating and decided she should not run for re-election.  She did not heed that warning and was not slated, though she has filed to run in the primary.  The fact is, party leaders now appoint the vast majority of those who vote at slating, people who just to show up and vote the way leadership wants them to vote.  Candidates know party bosses have almost complete control over the endorsement process.

But when it comes to slating of judges, there is an additional problem.  It is a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct to pay slating fees, according to a 1992 opinion by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.   The party chairmen claim that slating fees, which total at least $12,000, are "not mandatory."  Yet since that 1992 opinion there has never been a judge slated who hasn't paid the fee.  Retired judges all say the slating fee is mandatory.  Nobody is being fooled with the claim that slating fees for judges are "voluntary."

I refuse to pay a slating fee in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.  I also don't think party bosses, sitting in a room, should pick the Marion County judges.  Party workers and the party electorate should be the ones putting those judges on the court.

Although we have many fine judges in Marion County, the current system undermines the independence and impartiality of the judges.  As provided by the notes to the Code of Judicial Conduct, "judges and judicial candidates must, to the greatest extent possible, be free, and appear to be free, from political influence, and partisan interests."  When partisan issues come before the court, judges, faced with the possibility of not being slated next time, are under an enormous pressure to rule the "right way," i.e. the way the party bosses want them to rule.  No better example exists than the Peterson v. Borst case a few years ago in which every Republican judge voted for the plan passed by the Republican majority to redistrict the Indianapolis council and every Democratic judge voted against it.   (To clarify, there were judges who abstained from the vote.)

Judges should not be players beholden to one side or another.  They should be umpires with their decisions flowing from the constitutions, statutes and rules which judges are sworn to uphold.   Ours is not a system in which the laws should apply differently based on who is standing before the tribunal  Yet that sadly is too often the case.  I promise that as a judge everyone will stand before me with equal footing.  I do not care if one side is a big corporation represented by the most politically connected downtown law firm while the other side is a person too poor to afford an attorney.  The law is the law is the law.  If the law is with the pro se litigant, that person wins.  Period.

The question has been asked by many people what happens to my blog Ogden on Politics.  Having closely reviewed the Code of Judicial Conduct, I am aware that I am not permitted as a judicial candidate to make promises to support certain positions.  Also, I cannot as a candidate take positions on issues that may possibly be before me as judge. I can talk about judicial philosophy, ideas for operating the courts more efficiently, and others matters relating to judicial administration.  I can also talk about issues that are unlikely to come before me as a judge...but if they unexpectedly do, I need to, and will recuse, myself.

In short, I will continue my blog, but focus more on national issues and issues that are unlikely to be the sort that will land before the Marion County Superior Court.   The posts will be a bit rarer as I will be busy campaigning.

Thanks to all of you who have given me encouragement as I have written Ogden on Politics and who will give me encouragement as I move forward with this professional challenge.  I could not do it without you.


Paul K. Ogden
Candidate for Marion County Superior Court Judge

Paid for and authorized by the Ogden for Judge Committee, Adam Lenkowsky, Chairman and Treasurer.


guy77money said...

Just don't meet anyone in any dark alleys! :) Good Luck and you have my vote!

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Guy. Yes, I will avoid dark alleys. Good advice. Thanks again.

JudgeNot said...

Point of clarification: not every Republican Judge voted for the GOP council districts. All who were present voted, but not all were there for the vote. I did not vote in favor.

M Theory said...

Wow, you would be an incredibly fair and thoughtful judge. I cannot imagine a better candidate than you Paul.

Let me know how I can support you.

Nicolas Martin said...

Good luck, Paul. Please consider my child's need when you sentence me.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, JudgeNot. What you're saying is accurate. I did not phrase what I meant to say accurately.

Indy_liberal said...


I commend your courage. Although I can't vote in the republican primary (I work for the democratic party), I can assure you that my partner (an independent) is going to vote for you. I appreciate your willingness to buck the egregious slating fee system and controlling party leaders. Good luck! I'll encourage all my republican friends to vote for you in May!

Irishking23 said...

Paul, I enjoy reading your blogs including the ones on Marion County Township Small Claims Courts. For what it is worth I will vote for you Paul. I believe that you will be a fair and capable jurist and that is what Marion County needs.

Unknown said...

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