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3 remain in running for high court

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Boone Circuit Judge Steven David said it best about what it’s like to be in the running for an opening on the Indiana Supreme Court.
 

David David

“This is sort of like being nine little birds in a nest,” the longtime judge said during his interview with the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission. “You’re all flying overhead us with a great big worm, and we’re all in the nest with our mouths open wanting a piece of that worm. Now, I know what a bird feels like but fortunately, there’s no elbowing.”

The judge and two others are finalists for the state’s highest court. Following a full day of interviews July 30, the seven-member commission chose Judge David, Marion Superior Judge Robyn L. Moberly, and Indianapolis appellate attorney Karl L. Mulvaney with Bingham McHale for the governor to consider for the next justice.

Moberly Robyn Moberly


They were among nine semi-finalists who’d interviewed for the spot after surviving a first round of interviews of the 34 initial applicants. The vacancy will be created once Justice Theodore R. Boehm retires Sept. 30.

Whoever is chosen will be Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ first appointment to the state’s highest court and the first new justice since 1999.
 

Mulvaney Karl Mulvaney

“I can’t imagine ever being better,” Judge Moberly said within an hour of hearing the news of her selection as a finalist. “I’m thrilled and humbled to be one of the three being sent to the governor.”

Judge Moberly, 56, has been a Marion Superior Court judge since 1997 and handled domestic violence and major criminal cases before moving to the civil side almost a decade ago. She’d previously served as a commissioner before taking the bench as a judge. Prior to that, she practiced privately since her graduation cum laude in 1978 from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis.

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If chosen, Judge Moberly would become only the second female justice in the court’s history and the first since Myra Selby stepped down in 1999. Indiana is one of only two top state courts in the country – the other is Idaho – without a female justice. The legal community has been vocal about the need for a female justice and many – including retiring Justice Boehm – have expressed an interest in seeing a woman appointed. But the chances have narrowed as 19 women initially applied, four made the semi-finalist round, and now only one is under consideration.

But aside from Judge Moberly and the gender diversity, the governor also has two other finalists who most agree are stellar choices for the Supreme Court.

Judge David, 53, has been on the bench since January 1994. The 1982 Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis graduate served as a U.S. Army judge advocate general following law school and then practiced law privately in Columbus before serving as in-house counsel at Mayflower Transit in Carmel. Once being elected to the bench, Judge David has presided over all types of civil, criminal, and juvenile matters and also served as special judge by Supreme Court appointment and hearing officer or special master in attorney and judicial misconduct cases. Throughout those years, he remained in the Army Reserves and worked on reforming the treatment of detainees in Iraq in 2003, as well as serving as chief defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainees at one time.

The only non-judicial finalist is Mulvaney, 60, who’s a partner at Bingham McHale and a cum laude graduate in 1977 from IU School of Law – Indianapolis. Following law school, he’d served as the Indiana Supreme Court’s assistant administrator and administrator from 1978 to 1991, reviewing transfer petitions and handling an array of administrative and legal issues. He began his legal practice at what was then known as Bingham Summers Welsh & Spillman in 1992, and since has handled scores of appellate cases and argued before both the state appellate courts.

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 Kiply Drew, Johnson Superior Judge Cynthia Emkes, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher, Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation, and State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, who’s an attorney at Steele & Steele.

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 to them prior to the interviews: “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 complement 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. As part of improving transparency, the judge said he supported both cameras in the courtrooms and also the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee’s statewide case management system.

Mulvaney told the commission that his experience in handling attorney ethics matters is his biggest accomplishment. Potential changes might include how judicial mandates are handled and possibly a rule revision about 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 it began almost a decade ago. 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 judicial 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 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?”

One of those three are now waiting for “the big worm” that the governor is holding. 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 – expected in the first week of August. 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 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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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