Chesterton Tribune



Clymer faces Patton in Superior Court Judge contest

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In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Republican incumbent Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey W. Clymer will face a challenge from Democrat Clay M. Patton. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) For Clymer: Age, place of residence: 57; Valparaiso.

For Patton: Age, place of residence, occupation: 49; Valparaiso; owner and manager, Osan & Patton LLP, Attorneys at Law.

(2) For Clymer: After being appointed by Gov. Holcomb 10 months ago to the bench of Porter Superior Court 2, to fill the vacancy created by Judge Bill Alexa’s retirement, why are you seeking election in your own right? (75 words) As current judge, I preside over the most serious and complicated legal matters in Porter County. My court literally has jurisdiction from cradle to grave: from adoptions to murder cases. I am fair to all litigants and attorneys every day. I am to follow the law, not to create it. I take these duties, responsibilities, and obligations seriously. I wish to continue to serve the people of Porter County as judge.

For Patton: Why are you seeking election to the bench of Porter Superior Court 2? (75 words) I am committed to making a difference and serving all Porter County families. I was born and raised in this community. And, now as the father of two young daughters and four generations of my family residing in Porter County, I am dedicated to using my vast legal expertise and leadership experiences to ensure that our community is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

(3) Describe your qualifications for the bench (100 words).

Clymer: I’ve practiced law in Indiana for more than 25 years. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Valparaiso Law School in 1992 where I served as an editor of the Valparaiso Law Review. I taught as an adjunct professor at Valparaiso Law School beginning in 1999. I tried more than 50 jury trials and litigated numerous multi-million-dollar cases throughout Indiana prior to closing my office when I became judge. I also know the people and lawyers of Porter County well. My wife is a Porter County teacher and our children and son-in-law graduated from Porter County schools.

Patton: I am experienced, trusted, and fair. I have 25 years of legal experience and have built a successful law practice, Osan and Patton LLP, Attorneys at Law. I have served as a judge pro-tem for over 15 years and have comprehensive courtroom expertise as a successful trial attorney, including extensive jury trial litigation, a Superior Court bailiff, and a law clerk for the Indiana Attorney General. I am a trusted attorney serving as legal counsel for Portage Township, Town of Burns Harbor, Porter County Storm Water Board, Porter County Recycling District, and Porter County Public Library.

(4) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (150 words).

Clymer: The Code of Judicial Conduct strictly limits what a judge or candidate can say. A judge or judicial candidate is not allowed to comment on their opponent. However, there are some factual differences in our qualifications: I am the current Judge of Porter Superior Court 2. I became a lawyer in 1992. I tried more than 50 jury trials and represented thousands of clients over a 25 year career. I am a fellow of the Indiana Bar Foundation, former delegate to the Indiana Bar Association, former president of the Porter County Bar Association and the Porter County Inn of Court. I am a registered mediator, attended the Supreme Court’s Opioid Summit, and am the local representative of the Indiana Judge’s Association. I taught at Valparaiso Law School for 18 years. I am an Eagle Scout; I also received secret security clearance as a civilian contractor for the United States Navy.

Patton: It would not be appropriate, nor show the necessary judicial temperament to critique the other candidate for this position. Instead, I offer additional details regarding my qualifications. In my service as a judge pro-tem for over 15 years, I have been commended by the Indiana Court of Appeals for my “thoughtful and thorough review of the evidence and the law.” In my comprehensive courtroom experience, I have presented oral argument before the Indiana Supreme Court and have successfully tried both criminal and civil jury trials in Porter County. My legal experience outside the courtroom has been extensive and varied, from the complex to the simple, including advising government officials, reviewing real estate documents, forming new businesses, preparing will and trusts, petitioning for name changes, and representing clients on collection matters.

(5) What are the key issues in this race? (150 words)

Clymer: Rule 2.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct prevents me from “making any public statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court” and from making “in connection with any cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court [any] pledges, promises or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.” That being said, like all judicial elections, the race should be determined based on qualifications, experience, and judicial temperament.

Patton: The key issues in this race are the opiate abuse crisis and the mental health challenges affecting our citizens. Earlier this year, I called for the expansion of the Porter County Problem-Solving Courts to address these important issues. Similar to the local Drug Court and Veteran’s Court, participants in a Porter County Mental Health Court would work through phases of a treatment plan including regular court appearances, medication compliance, drug screening, therapy, and other activities to help them make long-term life changes. According to Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, over 80 percent of the inmates in the Porter County Jail suffer from mental health issues. Rather than pay to incarcerate non-violent offenders struggling with addiction, depression, or other mental health issues, I believe these resources should be spent to provide comprehensive mental health treatment to put these individuals on track to lead a crime-free life.

(6) What role does the judiciary play in addressing the opioid crisis in Porter County? (75 words)

Clymer: Heroin, especially laced with Fentanyl, is pervasive in Porter County. I currently use the Porter County Drug Treatment Court whenever possible. I also order defendants to receive Vivitrol injections upon release from the jail. I attended the Indiana Supreme Court’s Opioid Summit in July and learned about Substance Use Disorder. We also learned about Narcan which is used to revive overdose victims and Vivitrol which is used to prevent future drug intoxication.

Patton: From 2013 to 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths in Porter County doubled. I will work to help avoid these tragedies. I have called for the expansion of the Porter County Drug Court in order to treat those who have abused all types of opiates. This expanded program would allow nonviolent offenders the opportunity to beat their addiction to prescription pain medication and avoid additional jail time upon completion of a highly structured program.

(7) How, in your opinion, does plea bargaining promote justice? To what degree does it confound justice? (100 words)

Clymer: Most criminal cases in Indiana and across the country are resolved with plea agreements. In most jurisdictions guilty pleas total more than 90 percent of all criminal cases. Plea agreements are a necessary part of the criminal justice system. Without plea agreements, we would need more jurors and courtrooms. A plea agreement is reached between the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney. Most plea agreements are a “sentence agreement” which set forth an agreed sentence for the defendant. In Porter County, it’s up to the judge to ultimately accept or reject the guilty plea before imposing a sentence.

Patton: Plea bargains are not initiated by judges, but by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Judges approve or reject them based on the offense, prior history, and background as reported by probation officers. “Justice delayed is justice denied” is an old legal saying. Plea bargaining promotes justice by resolving matters in a more timely manner, allowing victims a measure of closure, and defendants to begin serving their sentence, which often involves counseling and repayment to victims. Plea bargaining can confound justice if defendants aren’t fully aware of their options and victims not informed why cases are resolved through this process.

(8) Republicans and Democrats often have different philosophies on certain hot-button law-and-order issues: drug enforcement, sentencing, capital punishment. Would there be, in your view, any real difference in Porter County between a Republican on the bench of Superior Court 2 and a Democrat? (75 words)

Clymer: I cannot answer this question without violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. All judges and all judicial candidates are barred from making “public statements” which might “affect the outcome or impair the fairness on a matter pending or impending in any court.” Likewise, according to the ethics rules for judges, all judges and judicial candidates are to refrain from pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of a judge’s duties.

Patton: While jurists at the national level are often seen as serving one political party or the other based upon the politics of the President who appointed them, I don’t see a real difference between the political parties in resolving the criminal and civil matters that come before this court. I am proud to have supporters throughout Porter County who are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or Independents. I look forward to serving all Porter County citizens.


Posted 10/4/2018




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