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(INDIANAPOLIS) – A Lake County judge is the newest member of the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Elizabeth Tavitas has been a Superior Court judge for 12 years, and was a juvenile referee for eight years before that. She’s also served as a deputy prosecutor and public defender.

Governor Holcomb selected Tavitas from a list of three finalists to replace Michael Barnes, who retired last month after 18 years on the appeals court. He praises Tavitas as a brilliant legal mind, and says her family court experience is a plus at a time when the opioid epidemic is causing upheaval.

As judge, Tavitas instituted a mediation program, made Lake County one of the first in Indiana to establish a protective-order registry, and supervises a legal clinic for people representing themselves in court. She says she’ll bring  to the court a passion for the rule of law, and for ensuring people who can’t afford a lawyer still have access to justice.

New Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Tavitas (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)