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Clark County to get new judge in high-level felony court Jan. 1

A gavel rests inside the court room of the 100th Air Refueling Wing base legal office at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 28, 2019. The attorneys in the legal office offer commanders legal advice and also provide services like notaries, power of attorneys, wills and legal assistance to Team Mildenhall. (Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)
Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron
Nick Karaffa was appointed last month by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, following the announcement that Judge Dan Moore would be stepping down at the end of the year due to health issues.

A longtime defense attorney will soon take the bench as the newest judge in Clark County, where he’ll preside over some of the county’s most serious cases.

Nick Karaffa, a Republican, was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb last month to replace Judge Dan Moore, who is stepping down early due to health conditions. He’ll be sworn in Wednesday and take the bench Jan. 1.

Karaffa said he’s honored by the appointment and excited to be a problem-solver in the courtroom, bringing resolutions to cases and making sure people feel like they’re heard.

“I'm really looking forward to getting into Circuit 1 and keeping the docket moving,” he said. “And keeping the legacy that the past judges of Circuit 1 have left for that court.”

His docket will include murder and higher-level felony cases, which are split between Circuit Court Nos. 1 and 4.

He’ll also preside over adult guardianship and estate cases.

Karaffa started practicing in 2010, opening his own firm several years later. He’s served as a public defender in Clark, Scott and Jefferson counties in Southern Indiana and has been the Chief Administrative Officer for the Clark County courts since 2020.

Karaffa said this experience, as well as filling in as a Judge Pro Tempore, have helped prepare him for the role.

He said it’s been eye opening the last couple of years, “fully understanding what [every day] looks like for a judge.”

Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael, who’s also the presiding judge over the Clark County courts, said she’s happy to see Karaffa appointed to the spot.

“I think it's wonderful,” she said. “He is going to make a really good judge. He has the knowledge, the ability to work with people. He's going to be really, really good in that role. I look forward to working with him.”

Senior Judge Susan Orth, who previously presided over Floyd County Superior Court No. 1, was appointed by the governor to serve the remainder of the year for Moore after he took a leave of absence earlier this year.

Karaffa holds a Bachelor of Arts from Transylvania University. He earned his law degree from the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

He must run in the 2024 election to retain the seat.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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