Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

November 27, 2013

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Judge listened to dad's music, mom's advice

Dan Banina cherishes his blue-collar upbringing.

(Continued)

By then he had married Helene Lenz, whom he had met at St. Joseph’s, in September 1982.

After five years in Franklin County, the Baninas yearned to get closer to their families, so Dan applied for and got the job of chief deputy attorney under Miami County Prosecutor Wil Siders in 1987.

For the next nine years, Banina says, he gained much experience in prosecuting drunken drivers and offenses against children, such as child molest and neglect.

When Superior Court Judge Garrett Palmer announced in 1996 he would not seek re-election, Banina saw an opportunity to fill a cherished ambition.

“It had always been my goal to be judge, so I threw my hat in the ring,” Banina said. “My family and I worked our tails off.”

Banina defeated veteran attorney Don Fern and took office in 1997.

An odd set of circumstances would unfold in the years ahead.

Banina was re-elected in 2002, but in November 2008, he was challenged in the Republican primary by attorney David Grund. Banina’s 12-year run on the bench appeared to be over after a 34-vote defeat.

But no.

A year earlier, Banina had been the driving force to get a new trial court for Miami County because of the excessive caseloads in the superior and Circuit courts.

The General Assembly approved Miami Superior Court 2 in 2008. Banina applied to be its first judge. Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed him in December.

“I could not have asked for a better Christmas present,” Banina recalls.

He started the new court on Jan. 1, 2009, and then ran unopposed in 2010 for a full six-year term.

Banina notes: “My judicial career is rather unique in that I know of no other judge who has been elected, re-elected, defeated, appointed, and then elected again in that order with no gap in time.”

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