He plans to run for one more term and then retire.
“I love my job,” Banina says. “I enjoy helping people. There is a great feeling of satisfaction when I resolve an issue and people can get back to their lives. I especially like juvenile cases. I handle all the juvenile delinquency cases in Miami County. With juveniles there is still the opportunity to turn someone’s life around more so than with adults. Helping young people stay off of drugs and out of trouble is very rewarding.”
He continues: “Seeing children as victims of neglect or abuse is difficult. I also handle all cases in Miami County involving termination of parental rights. Terminating the rights of a child with their parents is by far the toughest thing I do as judge.”
One of the biggest surprises he has seen on the bench, he said, is the number of people still doing methamphetamine. “Despite law enforcement efforts and national publicity on the dangers of meth, it is still prevalent. I have seen many people in my court destroying themselves with meth. It is very sad.”
The most important lesson he has learned as a judge, he said, is to listen closely to both sides in a contested matter. “There have been times when after hearing only one side of the case I have thought to myself, ‘Why are we here? This is obvious.’ But after hearing the other side you realize why they are there and the case is not so ‘cut and dried.’”
Off the bench, he and Helene, who teaches history and English at Maconaquah High School, take pride in watching their three children develop.
Sam, an Eagle Scout and Notre Dame grad, is a software developer for Microsoft in Seattle. Lauren is attending graduate school at IU Bloomington, working on a degree in environmental science. Hannah is a senior at Peru High School, where she is first in her class and a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship. She’s planning on attending Notre Dame, Valparaiso or St. Mary’s College.