Aaron J. Spolarich is seeking the position of judge of the Montgomery County Superior Court 2. The following Q&A was submitted by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. Other candidates in June’s primary election will be featured in the coming days.
Name: Aaron J. Spolarich
Office sought: Judge, Montgomery County Superior Court 2
Occupation: Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office
Education: J.D., cum laude, Indiana University Maurer School of Law (2011); and B.A., summa cum laude, Wabash College (2008)
Current experience and qualifications: Deputy Prosecuting Attorney – Montgomery County, Indiana (2015-present); represents the State of Indiana in all matters in Superior Court 2; founded and managed the Digital Forensic Search Warrant Division, which collaborates with state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who target children online; state representative to the Montgomery County Veterans’ Treatment Court Team – trusted to preside over the court when the sitting Judge is unavailable.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney – Marion County, Indiana (2013-2015); prosecuted hundreds of trials, ranging in severity from murder to misdemeanors.
Deputy Attorney General – Appeals Division – Office of the Indiana Attorney General (2011-2013); presented six oral arguments in the Indiana Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Indiana; authored more than 150 appellate briefs on behalf of the State of Indiana
Community involvements: president – Montgomery County Bar Association (June 2018 – present); inaugural president – Crawfordsville Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizens Advisory Council (January 2019 – present); officer – Knights of Columbus, Council 1591 (June 2018 – present); chairperson (2019); co-chair (2018) – St. Bernard Fall Bazaar; Judicial Liaison – West Central Regional Community Corrections (January 2019 – present); Riley Hospital Advocate – Crawfordsville Kiwanis; and State Team Member – Montgomery County Veterans’ Treatment Court (June 2015 – present)
Party affiliation: Republican
What do you think is the most important issue facing Crawfordsville/Montgomery County in the next four years?
Being a deputy prosecuting attorney, I have a firsthand view of the impact that the substance abuse crisis has on Montgomery County. Illegal use of substances negatively affects our economy by depleting our workforce of qualified and consistent employees. More importantly, substance abuse deprives children of sober parents and the childhood they deserve. We need to continue to develop methods through the justice system to protect our community, including our children, reduce recidivism, and rehabilitate individuals struggling with addiction who are ready to accept help.
If elected, what would be your primary goal for the first year?
My primary goal of the first year is to expand the Veterans’ Treatment Court to our judicial district. Every veteran has earned the right to treatment when needed. Our Veterans’ Treatment Court is a model for treatment courts around Indiana, and it is the most important service Superior Court 2 offers to our community. By expanding the court to our district, we can continue our mission of giving back to our veteran community.
What professional experience do you have that is relevant to the office you seek, and what specific skills do you possess that make you qualified for the position?
I have unique experience that qualifies me to be Judge of Montgomery County Superior Court 2. Over the past five years, I have spent thousands of hours in Superior Court 2. That experience in the court has taught me how the court does operate and needs to operate. Additionally, I have successfully tried hundreds of cases to the court and to jury. I am the only candidate with that amount of trial experience.
Outside of trial work, I am the only candidate who has worked in appellate litigation, meaning I can see the larger picture of a case beyond the trial court. A judge must know how to preserve a proper record so that the Court protects the rights of all litigants.
Finally, and most importantly, I am the only candidate who is a current member of the Montgomery County Veterans’ Treatment Court. I have built a level of trust with the team, mentors and participants that a stranger to the court does not have. In the past five years, I have been the only person trusted to preside over the court when the sitting judge is unavailable.
An elected office provides the opportunity to proactively lead by placing new ideas on the agenda for consideration and development. What are some specific ideas you intend to pursue if elected?
Over the past decade, our Legislature and Supreme Court have prioritized reducing our State’s prison population. By doing so, there is an increased need for community-based supervision programs. We are already fortunate to have a probation department that is appropriately balancing the need for rehabilitation of the offender with protecting the community. Over the past few years, we have developed a gap in services with community corrections that needs addressed. As part of the multi-county West Central Regional Community Corrections, we must collaborate with other counties on our community correction program. As the current judicial liaison to WCRCC, a position typically reserved for a judge, I am working to reestablish what has sometimes been a strained relationship between Montgomery County and WCRCC. With the current justice models, there is no option but to have strong community-based supervision options.
Please describe your priorities for this term in office and your specific qualifications to address those issues effectively.
Expand the Veterans’ Treatment Court to the district — I am qualified to address this issue as the only candidate who is a current member of the Veterans’ Treatment Court and the only candidate who has been trusted to preside over the Court when the judge has been unavailable.
Rebuild the connection between Montgomery County and West Central Community Corrections — I describe my qualifications to address this issue in the above answer.
Reduce the substance abuse problem – I have prosecuted thousands of substance abuse cases. Being a prosecutor does not mean putting everyone in jail or prison. It means doing your best to protect your community. We need to be willing to explore new avenues of rehabilitation through our justice system.
What can Crawfordsville and Montgomery County do to reduce its carbon footprint?
As president of the Crawfordsville Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizens Advisory Council, I am leading a group of volunteers making our city safer for bicycling and walking. By encouraging alternative forms of transportation, we are reducing our dependence on gasoline.
If elected, I would use technology when able to reduce economic and environmental waste. Currently, Superior Court 2 does not have WiFi. This deficit means that all attorneys practicing in the court must use paper files and do not have the option of working paperless. Through the simple step of installing WiFi in the court, I can reduce economic and environmental waste.
What is the greatest concern that you hear from residents?
As I stated above, the greatest challenge in our community is substance abuse. My interactions with residents confirm that position. To address a separate issue, our citizens have repeatedly told me of their concerns about judicial activism that is infecting our justice system. If elected, I promise to apply the law as written. A judge must accept that our legislators are elected to write the law. The judge is elected to accept that law and apply it fairly to all litigants.
All cities and counties face fiscal challenges, how would you address balancing the budget and the needs and wants of the community?
Judges have limited control on budgets outside of their own court; however, I will continue Judge Lohorn’s promise to not request any funds from the county budget to operate the Veterans’ Treatment Court. For the court itself, I will operate the Court efficiently, reducing waste where possible, while prioritizing investments in technology and training.
What can Crawfordsville and Montgomery County do to encourage businesses to locate here?
Though a judge has limited control over this issue, as a citizen of our county, attracting businesses is key to our community’s future. We must recognize and manage a difficult balance. Montgomery County is special due to its history, agriculture, and natural resources, and those unique qualities can be used to attract businesses and talent. However, we cannot become so rigid in our ways to not adapt to changing desires of young professionals for their home. We must work to preserve our history while preparing for the future.
During and following the COVID-19 pandemic, what will you do, if elected, to help the recovery of our business community?
All of our courts will require an organized and efficient judge following the COVID-19 pandemic. Courts are currently continuing the majority of their cases, meaning there will be a substantial backlog of hearings once the pandemic is mitigated. I am the only candidate who has consistently managed a caseload of over one thousand cases per year. I have the necessary experience and organization skills to manage the court’s docket and adapt to unprecedented challenges.