The Journal Gazette
Saturday, October 17, 2020 1:00 am

Magistrate appointed as newest judge

Circuit Court official to fill Superior Court seat

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A Circuit Court magistrate is preparing for a move down the hall to Allen Superior Court.

Steven Godfrey is set to be the Superior Court's newest judge after Gov. Eric Holcomb chose him from among three finalists for the post. The announcement was made Friday.

Godfrey, a former prosecutor in Lake and Allen counties, has been a Circuit Court magistrate since 2018. He presides over civil and criminal cases and also handles cases involving families and child support.

Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis is running unopposed to succeed retiring Circuit Court Judge Thomas Felts. Godfrey would serve out Davis' term, which ends in 2022.

Samuel Keirns, a Superior Court magistrate, and Andrew Teel, law clerk for U.S. District Judge Holly Brady, also were finalists.

Godfrey earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Ball State University in 1987 and earned his law degree from Valparaiso University. He worked as a law clerk for former Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck Jr. and then moved on to prosecutor's offices in Lake and Allen counties.

Three problem-solving courts – Veterans Court, Restoration Court and Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Court – designed to steer defendants from criminal penalties and to programs including therapy and other programs are run by Godfrey.

He also was a finalist two years ago to replace Surbeck. Godfrey will handle criminal cases with Superior Court judges Fran Gull and David Zent.

The circuit court handles a variety of cases including mortgage foreclosures, civil cases and cases involving drunken driving and habitual traffic offenders. Candidates for judge there declare whether they are a Republican or a Democrat.

Allen Superior Court typically handles more serious criminal cases, and judges' positions are nonpartisan.

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