On Tuesday, May 3,
incumbent Porter Superior Court Judge Julia Jent will face a challenge from
fellow Democrat Michael Deppe for their party’s nomination to the bench.
Tribune invited Jent and Deppe to respond to a questionnaire.
reserved the right to edit the responses for length.
(1) Age, place of
residence, and education.
Portage; Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, Indiana University
Northwest; J.D., Valparaiso University School of Law; graduate program for
judges, Indiana Judicial College.
Union Township; Associate’s degree, Murray State University; Bachelor’s in
criminal justice, Indiana University Northwest; J.D., Thomas M. Cooley Law
(2) For Jent:
Before succeeding to the Porter Superior Court bench, what kind of law did
you practice and where did you practice it? (50 words) Prior to taking
the bench, I worked as a part-time deputy prosecutor and had a private
practice with offices in Portage and Gary. My private practice of law
consisted of bankruptcy cases, Social Security appeals, some criminal
defense work, and some family law.
For Deppe: What
kind of law do you practice? Why are you running for the bench in Porter
County when your practice is in Lake County? (50 words) I practice
criminal and civil law in Porter and Lake counties and prosecute cases in
Merrillville Town Court. Although I live in Porter County, my office is in
Lake County due to my reputation as a retired Lake Station police officer
and the central location for Porter and Lake County courts.
(3) For Jent: How
many years have you served on the bench and why are you seeking re-election?
Describe your achievements on the bench (100 words) I have served on the
bench 19 years. I am seeking re-election because I want to continue serving
the people of Porter County. I care deeply for my community, I believe in
its people, in its future.
I maintain a
video-link courtroom at the Porter County Jail to hear inmate cases, without
the expense and security issues incurred when inmates are transported. I
developed a program for teen traffic offenders that teaches them
accountability for bad choices and impresses on them the importance of safe
driving. And I’ve designed programming that lowers the risk of re-offending.
For Deppe: Why are
you seeking election to the bench? Describe your qualifications to serve in
the judiciary. (100 words). I have spent my life helping people. I am a
retired police officer, a prosecutor, defense lawyer, civil lawyer and a
judge pro tem. Now, I believe that I could help people by serving as a
Due to my broad
experience, I have a sense of fairness and how to do the right thing.
Because of my background, I will not view cases through the lens of a
prosecutor or defense attorney. Every person who enters the court room
should be treated with respect. I believe that the punishment should match
the crime while always considering the victims.
yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a
better candidate. (100 words)
addition to my criminal and civil court call and judicial administrative
duties, I’ve developed special problem-solving courts for specific
high-risk/high-need offender groups: Adult Drug Court, Veterans Treatment
Court, and Re-Entry Court. These are now model programs combining intense
supervision, treatment, counseling, and education to divert offenders from
incarceration into productive, crime-free lives. I have the passion and
knowledge to develop these courts to their full potential.
I am accessible, I
expedite cases without jeopardizing litigants’ rights, and I believe
everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I am innovative,
fair, and have a strong work ethic.
ideas from someone with broad experience can improve the system. My opponent
has been a judge for many years and may have run low on ideas to streamline
the court and still provide justice. The attorney’s code of ethics prevents
me from criticizing my opponent.
I intend to use my
time outside of the courtroom to educate children. A judge can play a vital
role in helping children understand the criminal justice system and educate
them in the consequences of poor decisions. The time to reach them is well
before they become a criminal defendant.
(5) What are the
key issues in the race? (150)
candidate for judge, I will only address what I have accomplished, and that
I will continue to serve my community to the best of my ability, by applying
the law, by continuing to look for ways to reduce recidivism, reduce the
many needless deaths caused by drug overdoses, and to help our
justice-involved veterans find their way home.
Deppe: The key
issues are how people are treated in the courtroom and avoiding judicial
prejudice. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and professionalism.
When victims, defendants, or witnesses feel disrespected, it makes people
believe the system is rigged even if the ultimate outcome is just. Respect,
fairness, and firmness are not mutually exclusive.
Even when justice
requires harsh penalties, it can be done in a manner to help a defendant
understand what they did was wrong and that their punishment is a just
consequence. This will increase respect for the judiciary and help reduce
repeat offender rates.
Everyone has the
right to speak and argue their case without a prejudice against them. People
should be judged on the facts and the evidence without being prejudiced by
reputation or biases.
(6) What role does
punishment play in justice? What role mercy? (100 words)
Jent: Where the
offender is low-risk/low-need, studies show that immediate, appropriate
consequences are most effective. Studies also show that punishment for the
sake of punishment, or for revenge, increases the risk of re-offending. As
judges, we are bound to follow the law, which in many cases allows us a
range of sentencing. That allows us to consider other issues than the crime
charged. We often consider the person's family history, addiction issues,
family issues. We also consider the victim, the safety of our community.
Much thought is put into decision-making when someone’s freedom or safety is
Punishment should be matched to the crime. Serious offenses and repeat
offenses will receive harsher punishment. However, courts should also
consider what can be done to help this defendant from re-offending. Although
justice must be served, it must also know when to show mercy.
has to be tempered with compassion. A first time offender who steals food to
feed her child will likely receive more deference than a serial shoplifter.
Punishment or mercy has to be judged on a case-by-case basis. This is only
possible through respect in the courtroom.
(7) What do you
consider the most significant threat to the residents of Porter County and
does this county’s judiciary have a role in addressing it? (75 words)
continue to battle the scourge of heroin and other drug addictions,
overdoses, and high rate of drug-related arrests. The Porter County
judiciary has been pro-active in addressing the problems. Porter County
Juvenile Court, under the supervision of Judge Mary Harper, works with drug
addicted youth, and I developed and supervise the Porter County Adult Drug
of life suffers when people do not trust the police. This trust has been
tarnished by the bad actions of a few. This trust must be mended and
earned--not demanded. The judiciary can help mend this trust through fair
administration of justice to everyone. This includes police.
Gang affiliation is
also a growing threat. In addition to those who commit the acts, those who
use their power to force others to do bad acts should be punished severely.