But as Shepard also notes, it’s also created a challenge for voters to find out more about who those justices and judges are.
While no appellate court judge has been removed since Indiana's constitution was amended, Shepard said that may reflect more of a “vote of confidence” in the merit selection system than in the individual judges.
So four years ago, at the urging of the legislature, the Indiana Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration created the judicial retention website to provide more information to voters.
Updated with every election cycle, it contains biographical information on the state court justices and judges who are up for retention, along with access to judicial opinions they’ve written, supported, or dissented from. The website also allows visitors to watch oral arguments in the cases they’ve heard.
It’s where voters can go to find information on Rucker and David, and also on the four Court of Appeals judges up for retention this year: Judge John G. Baker from Bloomington, the longest-serving member on the current Court of Appeals; Judge Nancy H. Vaidik, a former prosecutor and trial court judge in Porter County; Judge Paul Mathis of Fort Wayne, a former trial court judge; and Judge Michael Barnes of South Bend, who spent 20 years as a prosecutor before joining the court.
The website is also where voters can find the majority opinion written by Justice David in the “Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana” case, which created a small uproar last spring. David wrote that Indiana law did not allow a citizen to forcibly resist police from unlawful entry into his or her home.
Critics said the decision violated the state’s “castle doctrine” of self-defense. The ruling also prompted some Tea Party groups around the state to launch an effort to vote David out of office when he faces next Tuesday’s retention vote.