The following information was provided by Allen Superior Court
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Allen Superior Court Judge Charles F. Pratt, whose career in the judiciary focused on the betterment of families and children, will retire from the bench effective May 1, 2021.
Over the past two weeks, Judge Pratt informed Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Governor Eric Holcomb of his intent to retire. Judge Pratt’s retirement concludes a career in law – one that started and will end in Superior Court – spanning more than 40 years.
“Families are the foundation of any great community,” said Judge Pratt. “But the world is tough on families, especially on our children. Our families deserve advocates who stand up for them, who work to keep them together and who provide them with the tools to meet the challenges of a complex world. It has been the privilege of my life to serve in that role as a part of the Allen County judiciary.”
Judge Pratt has been a part of the Allen County judiciary for more than 40 years. After graduating from the Indiana University School of Law, he served as a law clerk in Superior Court from 1979-1980.
He was first elected to the Family Relations Division bench in 1998 (taking office in January 1999). He was re-elected in 2004, 2010 and 2016. From 1985 until being elected Judge, Pratt served as Magistrate in the Family Relations Division. Prior to that, he served as a Judicial Referee in Superior Court’s Civil Division. Before becoming a judicial officer, Judge Pratt worked in private practice.
Judge Pratt is renowned for innovativeness in the handling of family court matters. He founded the Great Kids Make Great Communities initiative, which provides training and information to adults on positive youth development. Great Kids conducts the Annual Conference On Youth, which has provided low-cost training on child welfare, delinquency and youth issues to thousands of professionals from around the region for more than 30 years. The Great Kids Leaders Academy offers a 6-month certificate program in child and family issues.
Under Judge Pratt’s leadership, Allen Superior Court launched a Family Recovery Court to offer new solutions to families, parents and guardians struggling with substance abuse. He was instrumental in drafting “dual status” legislation that made Indiana the first state in the nation with a comprehensive law to address the needs of youth who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems due to interrelated issues.
Judge Pratt also made Allen Superior Court’s the first family court in Indiana to undergo a “trauma audit” to review its operations and make changes that permit the court to better serve children and families who already suffer the after-effects of a variety of negative experiences.
“Judge Pratt’s work will stand as some of the most important work ever done in this community on behalf of families and children,” said Judge Andrea R. Trevino, Allen Superior Court Chief Judge. “Those who have benefited from his passion for supporting and restoring families already know that. The rest of our community deserves to know it as well. It has been a privilege to work alongside Judge Pratt and to learn so much from him the past several years.”
As a Family Division Judge, Pratt has presided mainly over family relations, adoption and children in need of services (CHINS) proceedings.
Among the defining elements of his career as a Judge has been Judge Pratt’s advocacy for adoption. Judge Pratt handles more than 200 adoptions each year. For nearly 15 years, he has organized an annual Adoption Day in Allen County, recognizing National Adoption Month. The 2020 event united nearly 50 children with their forever families.
A Carroll High School graduate, Judge Pratt was a Political Science major at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (now Purdue-Fort Wayne), where he graduated with distinction in 1976. He went on to the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, graduating cum laude in 1979.
Judge Pratt is a current member of the Lutheran Foundation Board of Directors and the Fort Wayne United Advisory Board and previously served on the boards of Concordia Lutheran High School and the Harold W. McMillan Center for Health Education. He belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the Indiana Judges Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Judge Pratt’s successor will be appointed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb from a group of finalists to be identified by the Allen County Judicial Nominating Commission. The timing of that process will be announced in the future by the Governor’s Office.
That person will complete the remainder of Judge Pratt’s current term, which ends Dec. 31, 2022.