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Judges Pro Tempore: Judicial Pinch Hitters

Many times, individuals will walk into court and notice that a new judge is sitting at the bench.  The judge is professionally dressed, usually well-spoken, seems to have a grasp of what is going on in the courtroom.  But, this new judge isn’t wearing a robe and keeps looking at his watch.  Who is he?

The Indiana Code provides for individuals called “judges pro tempore” (commonly called, a “pro tem” judge).  These are regular attorneys, usually in private practice in an area of the law, who step-in and serve as judges when the presiding judge is otherwise unavailable.  The use of judges pro tempore is a crucial component of your local Hoosier judicial system as presiding judges can become overwhelmed if they are conducting a jury trial and other motions or matters must be ruled upon, or the judge falls unexpectedly ill.  Judges pro tempore allow Hoosier courtrooms to stay on top of their cases and to provide continuing access to justice for those before it.

But why does that pro tem judge keep looking at his watch?  While the law that permits judges pro tempore has existed for nearly 20 years, it hasn’t changed much.  In fact, judges pro tempore are still compensated at the original pay rate: $20 per day.  For attorneys that may make over $200 per hour in private practice, this makes serving as a judge pro tempore work that primarily compensates the attorney in experience by allowing the serving attorney to gain additional insight into other areas of courtroom practice.

If you interested hiring attorneys who have experience in more than just one role in the courtroom, contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today.  We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case.  Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.