Chidester is announcing his bid to seek re-election as Judge of the Porter
Superior Court 4.
Since taking the
bench on Jan. 1, 2003, Chidester has heard misdemeanor, felony, and traffic
cases, along with small claims and protection orders.
soon be the longest serving judge in the Valparaiso courthouse and second
longest serving judge in Porter County--currently operates the Porter County
Restoration Court, which is one of eight mental health courts in Indiana.
The Restoration Court uses a team approach with representatives from the
Public Defender’s office, Prosecutor’s Office, Porter Starke Services,
Porter County Adult Probation Department, the Sheriff’s Department, and PACT
to hold weekly court hearings with participants, holding them highly
accountable for mental health and addiction case management treatment.
“I have decided to
stay on the bench another six years, if the voters will have me, to ensure
continuity between judge and Restoration Court participants,” Chidester
said. “When mental health court participants see an approachable,
consistent, and optimistic judge over time, all the studies show that
re-offense rates decrease dramatically. My goal for the upcoming years is to
properly assist and train the new judges, increase the census of the
Restoration Court, graduate those successful in the program and then fade
into the sunset after the expiration of my term.”
During his time on
the bench, Chidester has served on the Indiana Judicial Center Protection
Order Committee and has participated in the drafting of forms used by
Indiana Judges in protection order cases. He has chaired Porter County’s
Community Correction Advisory Board since 2017, served on the Indiana
Judicial Center Probation Committee, Board of Managers, Board of Directors
and has taken the lead in drafting the Porter County Local Rules and served
as chair of the Protection Order E-filing Committee, and has participated as
a pilot court in Indiana’s risk assessment pretrial release program.
by the Indiana Division of Court Services show that Chidester’s Court
maintains one of the highest and fastest disposition rates among Indiana
Courts, with a 90-percent rate of finalization in less than one year of the
162,000 cases filed in his Court since 2003.
Chidester has operated his court within budget and has not sought an
increase of the budgeted funds for each fiscal year. The Restoration Court
has run entirely on Department of Correction grants and public donations and
has not sought any new moneys from the Porter County Council.
In 2005, Judge
Chidester was awarded a Professional Certificate of Judicial Studies from
the University of Nevada at Reno, home of the National Judicial College. He
is the only Porter County Judge to hold such a certificate.
With the departure
of two senior Porter County judges in 2020, losing more than 75 years of
judicial experience, Chidester will be called upon to mentor two brand new
Porter County judges and two relatively new judges elected in 2016 and just
beginning their judicial career. In seeking to become the most senior judge
in the Porter County courthouse, Chidester believes it imperative to teach
Porter County’s new judges the business of judging and their role in the
community, while working with probation and community corrections and the
Clerk of Court.