Jones to be next Daviess circuit judge

Judge Lisa Payne Jones

Daviess District Judge Lisa Payne Jones is set to become the county's next circuit-level judge, replacing retiring Circuit Judge Joe Castlen.

Jones was the only candidate to file to run in the November election for the Circuit Court, Division II post.

Richard House, chief deputy clerk for the Daviess County Clerk's office, said only Jones' name will appear on the November ballot. The cutoff to file was 4 p.m. Tuesday under a state law that moved the filing deadline to June.

While a candidate could still be appointed to the judgeship by the governor, the appointee will not appear on the November ballot, according to the secretary of state's office.

Jones said she anticipates staying on the District Court bench until after the November election.

"I'm excited," Jones said Wednesday. "There was so much speculation about who would run."

Circuit Court handles felony criminal cases and trials and major civil cases. District Court manages traffic violations, misdemeanor criminal charges and small claims. Felony cases start in District Court and are then transferred to Circuit Court.

Castlen announced his intention to retire in December and officially retired in January. Despite his retirement, Castlen has remained on the bench handling cases while awaiting word on how he would be replaced.

Although there is a judicial nominating commission in the county to review applicants for judge vacancies, there was never a call for interested attorneys to apply for an appointment.

"I guess I view it as a vote of confidence from the Bar (Association), that they think I have the right qualifications for the job," Jones said about no one else filing to run.

Castlen said he will stay on the bench until Jones is either elected or appointed.

"She is going to make a great (circuit) judge," Castlen said. "She has the right attitude and the right demeanor."

Castlen said he is unsure how long he will remain on the Circuit Court bench.

"They could appoint her" before the election, Castlen said. If not, "I would like to stay until November," he said.

Jones said she doesn't anticipate the governor making an appointment between now and November. Before that could happen, the judicial nominating commission would have to review applicants and make recommendations to the governor's office.

Jones said an appointment could be made for the district judge position she will vacate. "If they did make an appointment, there would have to be a special election.

"I don't seem them (making an appointment) before the first of the year" for the District Court post, Jones said.

Having several months will give Jones time to prepare for the transition, she said.

"This gives me time to look over Judge Castlen's calendar, sit in on his court and make it as smooth a transition as possible."

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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