News and Tribune

Clark County

April 29, 2014

2 vie for Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 seat

Incumbent judge and local attorney to face off in Democratic primary

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Dan Moore will face opposition from Jeffersonville attorney Andrew “Drew” Adams in the judgeship’s Democratic Party primary race.

No candidates have filed on the Republican ticket.

The court, along with Clark County Circuit Court No. 4, hears cases involving murder, class A, B and C felony criminal charges and civil matters.

DAN MOORE

Moore, 61, Sellersburg, says his extensive history working in the legal system is not only helpful, but a virtual necessity to effectively preside over Clark County Circuit Court No. 1, and something he says his opponent can not offer.

Moore, who has practiced law since 1981, said the court hears such an array of cases that there are areas of law presented in the court that he had never practiced in his first decade as an attorney.

“Certainly, after 10 years, I wasn’t ready to be the judge of Clark Circuit Court No. 1,” Moore said. “But, over time, I think, I have tried nearly every type of case.”

Moore said as a private attorney, he tried civil and criminal jury trials, complex estate cases and commercial litigation.

“I think that kind of background and influence really helps me be a better judge because there is no time to learn [on the job] those kinds of pieces of litigation,” he said. “You need to have some familiarity with them in the trial setting.”

Since being elected circuit court judge in 2008, Moore said he has taken an especially hard stance toward offenders guilty of home invasion and crimes with the potential to cause significant injury.

“I have told the prosecutors, here, I am not accepting a plea bargain [in a case] that involves a weapon or a burglary into someone’s home, unless there are extenuating circumstances,” he said.

Moore said the inmate population of the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex is something he will work to keep at a manageable number in his next term.

Moore said the courts can act more efficiently and regulate jail population by bundling cases. He said the practice of bundling cases is to take various pending cases one person may have in more than one Clark County court and bring them into the same court.

“It [case bundling] is happening much more than it did before we started, let me tell you,” Moore said. “The four of us [Clark County Circuit Court judges] are doing a pretty good job of recognizing that, but I think we need to do more.”

Moore said the jail is burdened by inmates waiting to go to trial and those waiting to be placed in prison.

“We have pretrial detainees,” Moore said. “And, we have people who are convicted, sitting down there who the Indiana Department of Correction won’t come and get.”

In the next term, Moore hopes he will have the opportunity to continue working as the people’s judge.

“In my life, I’ve become dedicated to the legal system, and I continuously say that the legal system needs to do more in terms of outreach and information and getting out in the community,” Moore said.

In 2010, he spearheaded the effort to establish the Clark Legal Self Help Center, which provides free legal council to the public and operates in the Clark County Government Building. Through the efforts of community members and businesses, the center allows those who can not afford legal counsel to get questions answered and a nudge in the right direction.

While in office, Moore has also created an initiative to educate youth and others with the Riding the Circuit Outreach Program. Through the program, Moore, often with other legal officials, makes visits to area high schools and church and youth groups to make the legal system less mysterious.

“The things that we are doing in terms of our outreach, I think, are really important.” Moore said. “I think, as our county has grown that the courts can no longer just be, ‘We are here in the courthouse when you come and need us.’ The courts need to be out more educating, and that’s why I am really big on this Riding the Circuit program.”

Whether he is working to assist the poor or educate the young through outreach programs, Moore says has made efforts to make often complex legal matters more clear and less intimidating to the public.

“When you are a citizen walking into these courts in this hallway, it is an imposing looking thing, and, I think, it is a really important thing for people to know their judges work for them,” Moore said. “And, that is a different way for me to use my law degree and develop this system into something better.”

DREW ADAMS

Adams, 42, Charlestown, said if he’s elected Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 judge, he would work to make the court more efficient and thinks that he could have a big affect on reducing the county jail’s inmate population.

Adams, whose law office is in Jeffersonville, said his experience working as in attorney — not only in Clark County, but many counties in Southern Indiana — has given him a unique perspective that would serve as an asset from the bench.

When asked why he wants to be elected judge, Adams said, “Doing a lot of the practice that I do, I get to see a lot of different courts in different counties, and there is no hidden secret that Dan [Moore] and I don’t really get along. I try not to practice in his court because of that conflict. I don’t know where that is generated from.”

Adams said he sees room for improvement in the operation of the court.

“There is one way to handle things, and that is the proper way,” Adams said. “I think, sometimes, that is forgotten in some courts, but, in particular, that court [Clark County Circuit Court No. 1].”

Adams said he would want his court to be a forum focused on fairness.

“The judge should be fair and impartial to all parties that are involved — prosecutors, civil attorneys, participants, in particular, plaintiffs and defendants, petitioners and respondents in divorces,” he said. “I think they should all have a fair opportunity to plead their cases in front of the court without any prior bias or prejudice.”

Adams said even those accused of a crime should have the opportunity to appear before a judge without prejudice.

“They still have a right because they are innocent until proven guilty. I think in that particular court [Clark County Circuit Court No. 1] sometimes they are mistreated because they have been charged with a crime and they are not given a fair shake,” Adams said. “That is from my personal experience as a defense attorney.”

Adams thinks the Clark County courts should make a shift toward the consolidation of cases, when an offender has a number of pending cases in more than one court. He said the consolidation would not only make the courts more efficient, but it would save taxpayer dollars.

“It [would be] more beneficial because they [offenders] will have the same probation officer as well as more economical [because] you won’t have two probation officers supervising one person in two different courts and two different hearings and such,” Adams said.

Adams also said he supports Clark County courts moving toward a more digitized filing system, instead of the current method of filing cases in the office of the Clark County Clerk.

Adams said other counties in the area are working more efficiently than Clark by allowing attorneys to submit fillings directly to the court.

“We don’t do that,” Adams said of Clark County. “The only court that is doing that is Circuit Court No. 4. I think that is how it should be in every court.”

Adams said, if elected, he would shift the filing procedure from the clerk’s office to his court staff.

“I would have any filings in reference to cases that aren’t new cases filed in my office, so the staff could dispense with that stuff quickly,” he said. “I see how it is in other counties that do it this way, and it works out great.”

Adams said filing plea agreements directly to a court could have a big impact on the county’s inmate population. He said there can be a significant delay when a plea agreement is filed through the clerk’s office.

“You could skip that process, that 10-day delay, that 15-day delay, if it’s filed in the office within the court,” he said, adding that a court staff could more quickly set a date for the plea hearing and get the person out of the jail sooner.

He said the more efficient filing system is often practiced in other counties.

He said a person may have to wait in jail for up to 30 days for the case to be resolved.

“I truly think that would reduce probably 25 percent of your cases [inmates],” Adams said. “A lot of people are sitting there waiting for their sentencing dates even if they are going off to prison or if they are being released.”

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