TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Two judicial candidates want to do what hasn't been done in two decades: take the bench in a brand new courtroom.
As News 18 previously reported, 20 years have passed since Tippecanoe County has added a new court. But existing courtrooms are struggling to keep up with the county's growing population and rising caseloads.
Both candidates to become judge of Superior Court 7 have about two decades of experience in the legal field.
Jacque Chosnek (D-candidate for Superior Court 7 judge) is deputy city attorney for the City of Lafayette.
"My work for the city has exposed me to a wide variety of issues, a wide variety of people and has really helped give me that broad background that I think will be a benefit to the new court," she says.
Dan Moore (R-candidate for Superior Court 7 judge) is a magistrate in the county's Magistrate Court.
"I have experience running a court, handling the high volume that this court will have and dealing with these issues on basically a day-to-day basis, and I think that prepares me better than any other candidate," he says.
Moore says that he anticipates a backlog of cases from the get-go.
"Obviously with COVID-19, there's going to be further complications in that there are things we're going to be behind on, like evictions and potentially jury trials that were delayed for several months during the shutdown," he says.
Chosnek says that the new court needs to get off the ground quickly.
"So it's going to be important that, from the start, we get the right procedures and policies in place to be able to effectively and effeciently handle the high volume of cases that will come through the court," she says.
Superior Court 7 is designed to take pressure off of other courtrooms struggling to keep up with their caseloads. The new judge will handle the majority of the county's eviction cases, which have been on the rise due to economic fallout from the pandemic.
"Right now, the United Way and other community organizations have banded together to ease the ability to get rent-relief services, and so a judge has to be aware of what those resources are in the community," Moore says.
Chosnek agrees that connecting people to services is the best way a judge can address the issue.
"I would hope that we would be able to make available and make all the parties, both landlords and tenants, aware of the different community programs and options that are out there to try to help resolve the issues and the increase of potential evictions because of the pandemic," she says.