Governor appoints county prosecutor to bench

Gov. Eric Holcomb made it official Friday: Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis has been appointed to serve as Jackson Superior Court I judge.

Travis is the first female judge in Jackson County’s 202 years of existence.

“I’m honored, I’m humbled and I’m thankful because it’s an amazing opportunity to expand my legal career and continue serving Jackson County,” she said.

Travis, 50, will succeed Jackson Superior Court I Judge Bruce Markel, who is retiring May 31 after 13 years on the bench.

The court handles all criminal misdemeanors, small claims, civil litigation, traffic infractions, civil plenary and mortgage foreclosures.

Travis said she received a call Thursday afternoon from Holcomb.

The governor is preparing for a trip to Europe and told Travis he had things he wanted to get done before he left. The most pressing to him was letting her know she would be appointed as Markel’s successor.

“I was just floored by that,” she said, adding the moment was special.

Travis said she planned on growing her legal career and continuing to serve in Jackson County by running for judge one day, but the moment came sooner than she expected.

“It is something I’ve thought about for a while at some point and intending to do it someday,” she said.

Markel’s retirement caught her by surprise.

“Someday came a little earlier than I expected,” she said.

Travis was inspired knowing she was the first woman to serve as judge.

“I like to see everyone, no matter their gender or ethnicity, be able to do anything they want to do, so in that sense, it is important to me,” she said. “The fact that little girls and young women in Jackson County have the opportunity to see a woman be judge and think, ‘Oh, I can be a judge, too,’ I think that’s important, and it’s something I’m happy to be a part of.”

Travis was appointed to Jackson County prosecutor in 2012 after Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter was elected. She began working at the office Jan. 1, 2007.

She was reelected in 2014 and was unopposed in the primary and general election for reelection in November 2018.

Markel was appointed to the bench in 2006 to succeed Judge Frank Guthrie, the first judge of that court, and was reelected in 2008 and 2014. He announced his retirement earlier this year.

Prior to working in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Travis served as a deputy prosecutor in Lake and Monroe counties and was in private practice. Travis received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a law degree from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1993.

“I’ve absolutely loved being the prosecutor, and it’s been the most amazing job and an amazing opportunity to help people,” she said.

Travis said she expects a smooth transition from being a prosecutor to sitting behind the bench.

She said most lawyers start out as an advocate of some sort, whether they’re advocating for the prosecutor’s office, the defense or individual client.

“You’re moving from the role of an advocate to a neutral, independent person who hears from the advocate and has to make a decision based on the facts of the law on how they understand them to be,” she said. “I understand the definition of that role and will have a learning curve, but I’m very capable of it.”

Travis’ appointment also leaves Jackson County Republicans with a vacancy in the office and on the ballot.

Her first day as judge has yet to be determined, as she will have instruction from the Indiana Judicial Center.

“I don’t think it will be too long,” she said.

Travis is married to her husband, Bryant Lucas, and she has two stepsons, Trenton and Sam.