Retiring Hamilton County judge reflects on career 

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By Riya Chinni

After a career working as a deputy prosecutor, a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Prosecutor’s Office and a judge for the Carmel City Court and Hamilton County Superior Court 6, Judge Gail Bardach retired July 1. 

Reflecting on her college days, Bardach said she didn’t plan to pursue a legal career but eventually decided to attend law school after realizing she enjoyed putting logical arguments together. She attended Indiana University’s law school, now known as the Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

“I thought that I was a good decision maker,” Bardach said. “I knew that I was a good listener. I knew that I was empathetic toward other people but also very concerned about being fair.”

Bardach, who was elected as a county judge in 2006 after serving as a city court judge for 14 years, said her two most rewarding achievements are the judicial education and drunk driving risk programs she facilitated through Carmel Clay Schools, and her development of the Hamilton County Drug Court. Bardach presided over the drug court for the past 11 1/2 years with the help of a team in the probation department and made rulings in many substance abuse-related trials.

“I sometimes get letters from people who I’ve sent to jail or prison and years later I get a note from them thanking me for what I’ve done because it’s caused them to change their lives,” Bardach said. “That’s a pretty powerful message to receive. Clearly, that’s not how everybody feels about what I do, but when that does happen, it’s important to me.”

To honor Bardach’s career, defense attorney Mario Massillamany nominated her for a Sagamore of the Wabash award, which is the highest honor the Indiana governor’s office can bestow upon an Indiana resident. Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch presented the award to Bardach at her June 24 retirement party. 

“As a surprise, I called up the lieutenant governor and nominated her for the Sagamore of the Wabash and explained all of the wonderful things she has done for the people in the addiction community, the hundreds of lives she’s transformed through the drug court and the thousands of lives from being a judge on the bench,” said Massillamany, who is also chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party. 

In retirement, Bardach plans to volunteer, take some college-level history  and literature courses and travel with her husband. 

As of press time, Gov. Eric Holcomb had not yet appointed a judge to replace Bardach’s seat on the Hamilton County Court’s Superior Court 6. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2024. 

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