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Democrat Fred Schurger has announced his candidacy for re-election as judge of Adams Circuit Court.
He is the second announced candidate for the position. Republican Chad Kukelhan had previously announced his intentions to seek the judgeship.
Schurger graduated from Decatur Catholic High School and obtained his bachelor's degree from Wabash College, then earned his juris doctor degree from Indiana University Law School, graduating cum laude.
He is married to Teresa Schurger. They have six children: Fred T. Vince, David, Terese, Joe and Jim, along with four grandhildren. His parents, Severin and Madeline Schurger, were both attorneys, as is his sister, Susan Zurcher.
Schurger served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War period and is a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is also a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Decatur, is a former president of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, and is a member and past Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus.. He is a longtime member of the Decatur Elks and Moose lodges.
Prior to becoming a judge, Schurger was an attorney in Decatur since 1972. During his private practice, he was the county attorney for the Division of Family and Children Services and operated Schurger Land Title Co.
Gov. Frank O'Bannon appointed Schurger as the judge of Adams Circuit Court on Aug. 2, 1999. Since that time he has been twice elected judge of the circuit court.
In announcing his candidacy, Schurger said, "During the 27 years I was in civil practice, I was greatly involved in child law in circuit court. For three years early in my practice I was chief probation officer for Judge Parrish. I spent 25 years as the attorney for the then Adams County Welfare Department.That work was mainly abused children cases, both neglect and direct harm to children by parents.
"I also did all manner of real estate, family law and civil practice work. All of these matters were done in circuit court, so I had a first-hand knowledge of what was envolved."
Schurger said the judge of the circuit court hears all mental cases. "I served 11 years as a member of the board of directors of Park Center, our community mental health center, including two years as chairman," he said. "That experience has helped me to be especially sensitive to the individuals and families in these cases."
The circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction over all juvenile cases and the judge hears all juvenile delinquency cases and child abuse cases.
"When parents disagree or the children act out, the family comes to court," Schurger said. "In terms of time, the family matters take up nearly 80 percent of the time. These cases are not happy for anyone. People need prompt decisions so they can get on with their lives. Family law is the main work of this court."
The circuit court also hears Class A, B and C felony cases — the most serious criminal cases. Schurger said those cases occupy most of the remaining time.
"When I started a judge, circuit court had a small program called Juvenile Solutions. I have strongly supported the evolution of that program to become Community Corrections for adults and juveniles. Community Corrections fills in the corrections continuum to provide offender supervision of a level greater than just probation, but less incarceration," Schurger said, "with the added benefit of much lower costs to the taxpayers.
"With the support of the schools, we have added an out-of-school suspension program to those activities. This is important so that suspended students do not waste their suspension time in idleness, stay current in class work, and do not get in trouble. These programs benefit the children and people of Adams County and have my full support."
Schuger said that as judge, he has served with other judges around the state on the Juvenile Benchbook Committee for six year, serving as chairperson in 2004, and is currently on the Domestic Relations Committee.
"As circuit court judge, every day brings a new challenge to work out," Schurger said. "My staff is supportive of all my goals for the court to hold a fair hearing to all people in a lawsuit and to make a good decision without delay. My 12 years as a judge and 27 years of experience before becoming a judge have greatly helped me understand and deal with the diverse cases that are filed in circuit court.
"I like the challenges of being circuit court judge and serving the people of Adams County. I ask the voters of Adams County to re-elect me to another term as circuit court judge."