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
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).
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.
yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe
yourself to be a better candidate (150 words).
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.
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)
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
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
(6) What role does
the judiciary play in addressing the opioid crisis in Porter County? (75
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
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)
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.
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)
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.
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