GOSHEN — Two Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination for judge of Elkhart County Superior Court 1.
There is no Democratic challenger, and unless the Democrats slate a candidate this summer, Tuesday’s winner will be uncontested in the November general election.
The candidates are challenger Martin McCloskey and incumbent Kristine Osterday.
McCloskey practices law at his own office, McCloskey Law Office in Elkhart.
McCloskey said he is a graduate of Jimtown High School, honor graduate BMT, graduate of the Community College of the Air Force, graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, graduate of the Association of Indiana Counties DIPLOMA Program, graduate of Indiana University of South Bend and graduate of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.
Goshen News records show McCloskey is also a former Elkhart County Commissioner. The records also show that in 2012 McCloskey received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court for four Violations of Indiana attorney rules, which included: failure to provide competent representation; failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; charging an unreasonable fee; and failure to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of a client.
Osterday has served as judge of Elkhart Superior Court 1 since February 2018, when she was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to fill the vacancy left by the death of the Judge Evan Roberts.
Before her appointment, Osterday was selected in 2016 by county judges to serve as magistrate.
Osterday was selected by the Indiana Supreme Court to serve on the Criminal Law Policy Committee and the Domestic Violence Committee.
She graduated from Northridge High School in 1994 and graduated Indiana University South and then obtained her law degree at Valparaiso University School of Law in 2004.
Osterday began working at the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office in 2004. She served as a deputy prosecuting attorney from 2004 to 2012. She then worked as an associate attorney at the law firm Sanders Pianowski, LLP.
Osterday lives in Elkhart County with her husband, Chuck, and their three children. She serves on the board of directors for ADEC Inc. and is a former member of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County and the Center for Community Justice.
What are your qualifications as well as life and work experiences that will help you perform your duties as an Elkhart County judge?
MCCLOSKEY: I am the only candidate who served honorably in the military, as a police officer, as county commissioner, and who graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. I have real world experience working for others as well as owning my own businesses.
Drawing upon my vast experience in civil, criminal, and constitutional law such as: prosecuting and defending civil suits, family law, divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, adoptions, guardianships, probate, personal injury, protective orders, felonies and misdemeanors, and as a practicing attorney, and as owner of McCloskey Law Office for over 14 years, gives me a unique perspective.
OSTERDAY: I have served as the judge of Superior Court 1 since being appointed by Gov. Holcomb in February 2018. Before that, I was an Elkhart County magistrate for two years. After graduating from law school, I was a deputy prosecuting attorney at the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office for eight years. After the prosecutor’s office, I became an associate attorney at Sanders Pianowski LLP in Elkhart, handling a variety of criminal and civil matters for three years. I am the chair of the Community Corrections Advisory Board and I serve on the board of directors for ADEC Inc.
Do you favor combining the courthouses in Goshen and Elkhart into one facility? How would this help or hinder the local judicial process?
OSTERDAY: The decision of whether to consolidate the courthouses lies solely with the commissioners. The judges are supportive of the idea of consolidation. Our priority is making sure that we serve our customers, the people who regularly come into our courts, as effectively and efficiently as possible. Having us all together will give the judges the chance to regularly collaborate and to share resources. However, we know that the commissioners must explore many factors. The judges have appreciated being involved by the commissioners in the process. We look forward to any final decision made by the commissioners and will live with that decision, whatever that might be.
MCCLOSKEY: No. We should keep the historic Goshen courthouse, but the courthouse in Elkhart city needs to be replaced. I believe that it is vital that we design the new courthouse so it can be expanded to serve future needs without another multi-million dollar expense placed on the citizens of Elkhart County.
While having one large courthouse would in the long term save a lot of money, if it was done properly, it is not cost effective for Elkhart County at this time. By having an up-to-date courthouse in Elkhart, it helps the judicial process, because of space and technology.
Has the county judiciary’s recent experience with using videoconferencing technology to hold some hearings opened the door to using that technology routinely in local courts once the pandemic has passed?
MCCLOSKEY: Even though some of the courts have been using videoconferencing for years, I believe that more courts will be using this technology on a more routine basis.
When I was an Elkhart County commissioner I predicted that the courts would use videoconferencing in the future. It is a great tool for judges to use to move cases along especially for status conferences, initial hearings, and other cases which don’t require a jury or a lot of witnesses. It is not as intrusive as going to court for litigants, which helps so people can get back to their families and/or work.
OSTERDAY: I have always been in favor of using technology, when possible, to make the courts more efficient. Soon after my appointment in 2018, I obtained video equipment for my courtroom. I have used this equipment regularly to conduct hearings with inmates at the jail and the Indiana Department of Correction. While the technology has been vital during the pandemic, there are some limitations to the ongoing use of video for certain hearings due to Indiana’s Administrative Rules. I would support any effort to amend the Administrative Rules to allow the judges to continue widely using video technology.