Governor Daniels today appointed Judge Cale Bradford to the Indiana Court of Appeals for the second district. Bradford has served on the Marion Superior Court since 1997, first in the criminal division before moving to the civil division in 2004. His colleagues elected him as presiding judge twice, serving from 2003 to 2007. Daniels was provided a short list of three nominees.
The Guv said all three were very qualified, but he believed Bradford was the best choice since the appeals court reviews many criminal trials and Bradford’s “deep experience with them stood out.” But criminal trial experience is not the only thing that stands out about Judge Bradford. He became well-known in 2005 for a decision in which he ordered a divorcing couple who practiced Wiccan as their religious belief to comply with a controversial term applying to both parties. After grilling the mother and father about the Wiccan religion, he decided that the non-mainstream practice would be harmful to the child, and ordered:
“That the parents are directed to take such steps as are needed to shelter the child from involvement and observation of these non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.”
Obviously Judge Bradford didn’t realize the implications of infringing on religious beliefs, especially when no harm could be proved to the child. Jones v. Jones, 832 N.E.2d 1057 (2005). The very appellate court to which he has been appointed; however, recognized that no harm had been shown and reversed that restrictive part of Bradford’s decision in the Jones case. And now Judge Bradford will join the two appellate judges who reviewed so many of his previous decisions, including the case of the divorcing duo who practiced Wiccan.