INDIANAPOLIS | A Porter County native was elected chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday.
Judge Nancy Vaidik, who was appointed to bench in 2000 by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, will begin a three-year term as leader of the 15-judge appellate court starting Jan. 1.
As chief judge, Vaidik will speak for the appeals court in its dealings with the legislative and executive branches of state government and represent the court at ceremonial functions.
The Court of Appeals rules on nearly all appeals filed from trial court decisions in Indiana's 92 counties. It is the second-highest court in the state — beneath only the Indiana Supreme Court.
In 2012, the Court of Appeals issued more than 2,400 opinions written by three-judge panels. It typically hears cases in its Statehouse courtroom, but it also hit the road for oral arguments 105 times last year trying to bring the judiciary closer to Hoosiers.
Vaidik is a sixth-generation Hoosier who grew up in Portage and lives in Valparaiso. She earned her bachelor's and law degrees at Valparaiso University.
Her initial work as an attorney was in the Porter County prosecutor's office. She later entered private practice where she specialized in domestic relations, probate, municipal law and general litigation. She was a Porter Superior judge from 1992-2000.
Hoosiers voted in 2002 and 2012 to retain Vaidik on the appeals court for a 10-year term.
"I’m honored by the court’s selection and proud of its work," Vaidik said. "I’m also proud of my home region of Northwest Indiana and look forward to serving the entire state and our court as chief judge."
Vaidik has said she views the Court of Appeals existing "at the intersection of theoretical and practical law," and believes the court must "embody the highest degree of fairness and impartiality" by ensuring all litigants have the finest possible legal advocates.
She strives to craft legal writing that is "distinguished by logical construction and clear, explanatory prose."
State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, who also is an attorney, said she was proud to learn Vaidik's court colleagues elected her leader.
"I have known Judge Vaidik for many years going back to when she was an attorney in Porter County and she has a long history of great service," Tallian said. "Judge Vaidik has done an admirable job serving the people of Porter County over the years, and I know she will be invaluable in her new capacity as chief judge."
Vaidik's election puts Northwest Indiana natives in charge of both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson was born in Gary and grew up in Hobart.