State of Indiana

Indiana Lake County Superior Court Judicial Selection Method Challenge

City of Hammond v. Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission

Lawsuit filed on behalf of the city of Hammond, Indiana, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott (D), State Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D) in his personal capacity and a voter against the state of Indiana, the Indiana secretary of state and the Lake County Board of Elections, challenging the selection method of Superior Court judges in Lake, Marion and St. Joseph Counties. State law requires the three counties to appoint Superior Court judges through a selection committee process instead of by holding elections. In Indiana’s 89 other counties, which are predominantly white, voters elect their county Superior Court judges. Though voters in the three counties can vote in retention elections to renew a Superior Court judge’s six-year term, they cannot directly elect any new candidates to their Superior Courts. The plaintiffs allege that preventing these counties holding judicial elections denies a significant proportion of minority voters, including 49% of minority voters and 66% of all Black voters in Indiana, an opportunity to vote for Superior Court judges. The plaintiffs argue this violates the Voting Rights Act and state constitution. The plaintiffs are asking the court to block this law and allow Lake County to hold Superior Court judicial elections as the other 89 counties in Indiana do.

On January 4, 2024, the district court granted summary judgment for the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed that ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents (7th Circuit)

Case Documents (District Court)

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