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3 emerge as finalists for justice seat

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The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission has completed its work.

Now, it’s up to Gov. Mitch Daniels to decide who’ll be the next Indiana Supreme Court justice.

Following a full day of interviews Friday, the seven-member Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission choose Boone Circuit Judge Steven H. David, Marion Superior Judge Robyn L. Moberly, and Indianapolis appellate attorney Karl L. Mulvaney from a list of nine semi-finalists to forward on to the governor for consideration.

Whoever is chosen will be the Republican governor’s first appointment to the state’s highest court, the first new justice since 1999, and he or she will succeed Justice Theodore R. Boehm once he retires from the bench Sept. 30.

Aside from the three finalists, those who made it past the first round of cuts were: Indianapolis attorney Ellen Boshkoff with Baker & Daniels; Indiana University associate general counsel Kipley Drew; Johnson Superior Judge Cynthia Emkes; Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher; Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation; and State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford.

Each person began their 30-minute interview with a congratulatory welcome from Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who chairs the commission. He then asked each semi-finalist to address a two-part question sent out by the commission earlier this week: "What do you consider your finest professional accomplishment or contribution?" and "Name two things that need improving in the Indiana court system that a justice might help solve."

All raised points about what they might tackle if they were a member of the court, and then responded to other questions posed by commission members – their views on approaching issues of first impression, how they might compliment the current court makeup, what the judiciary’s three most pressing issues are, and how justices should factor in political, economic, and social ramifications in decision making.

Judge David said the biggest challenge is how the state judiciary stays efficient and relevant without much money, and he said more centralized operation and coordination between the 92 counties must be explored. The court must be as open and transparent as possible in order to make sure litigants have adequate access to justice. The judge noted he wasn’t afraid of cameras in the court, and he said the JTAC statewide case management system is an important part of that.

Mulvaney told the commission that his experience in handling attorney ethics matters is his biggest accomplishment, and potential changes might include how judicial mandates are handled and possibly a rule revision on how long juvenile cases can have to be briefed on appeal. One commission member praised Mulvaney’s appellate experience and also allowed the attorney to delve into his experience as Supreme Court Administrator and how that gave him experience in many issues before the court.

In the last of the three finalists to face their interview, Judge Moberly discussed her pride in being involved in the state’s Family Court Project since the beginning almost a decade ago. But she also said that the growing number of pro se litigants is one of the judiciary’s biggest concerns, and that one idea that could help might be creating a public-law librarian program modeled after how the court recruits teachers to educate kids about the Third Branch. She also explained the importance of managing the inevitable statewide court system changes, and how statewide funding is a significant point to consider. She said regional funding might be a step in that direction because everyone might be more able to easily agree on that.

After hearing Judge Moberly speak so passionately about her family and trial court work, one commission member asked her why she wanted to move to the Supreme Court despite her loving what she does now.

“I know there’s another chapter in my career… I hope this is the next chapter, but I know there’s something more for me out there and I hope it presents itself here,” she said. “If not me, who would do it?”

A full rundown of the interviews by all nine semi-finalists can be found at the Indiana Lawyer’s blog, First Impressions.

The governor’s general counsel, David Pippen, said a 60-day clock begins once Daniels receives an official evaluation report on the three finalists from the nominating commission; that’s expected next week, he said. Interviews will likely be scheduled “pretty quickly,” and there’s really no set procedure for how that interview process will happen. Whether one interview will take place or finalists will be invited back for a second informal interview hasn’t been determined, but it will be up to the governor to decide. Pippen said he doesn’t expect the governor will come close to running the 60-day deadline, but if Daniels doesn’t meet that deadline, the chief justice would make an appointment from the same list.
 

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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