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Thursday, April 20, 2017 1:00 am

Wabash judge on justice short list

Former Huntington attorney, 2 others vie for state's high court

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A Wabash County judge with Huntington County ties made the final cut for the next Indiana Supreme Court justice late Wednesday.

Wabash Superior Court Judge Christopher Goff was one of three chosen by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission to be a finalist for the post – along with Clark Circuit Court Judge Vicki L. Carmichael and Boone Superior Court Judge Matthew C. Kincaid.

Gov. Eric Holcomb will choose from the final three in the next 60 days. The appointee will fill the vacancy left by Justice Robert Rucker, who is leaving in May.

Goff, 45, was appointed to the bench in Wabash in 2005 and was most recently re-elected in 2014 for a term that expires in 2020.

He received his undergraduate degree from Ball State University and his law degree from Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington.

Before becoming a judge, Goff was an attorney in Huntington. He focused on criminal defense and domestic relations and also at one time was a public defender in Huntington County.

In 2005, former Gov. Mitch Daniels said Goff possessed the qualities needed in a good judge.

“He is extremely intelligent, fair, compassionate and above all else, a man of integrity,” Daniels said. “In addition to being a wonderful family man and a dedicated officer of the court, Chris is generous with the time he devotes to community service efforts. He will do an outstanding job on behalf of Wabash County citizens.”

Goff is a native of Wabash County and brought his family to his interview with the commission, according to the Indiana Law Blog. The popular online legal site reported that Goff spoke about diversity during his meeting with the group. He adopted a black child when he was 22 and was an African-American studies minor at Ball State.

Goff also emphasized the importance of the perspective of small towns, which have different needs. Most of Indiana looks like Wabash and not Indianapolis, he said.

nkelly@jg.net