ILNews

7 remain in running for Tax Court judge

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In less than 30 minutes, the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission cut in half the list of applicants to become the state’s second-ever Indiana Tax Court judge.

The seven-member commission chaired by Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard ended its first round of interviews with 14 applicants Monday afternoon, going into a closed-door executive session about 3:15 p.m. By 4 p.m., the members were ready to hold a public vote announcing the seven they’d bring back for a second interview:

– George Angelone, an Indianapolis attorney with the Legislative Services Agency who was admitted to practice in 1976.

– Dan Carwile, a longtime banking attorney who is senior vice president with Old National Wealth Management in Evansville. He was admitted to practice in 1983.

– Hon. Carol Comer, an administrative law judge with the Indiana Board of Tax Review who has been practicing since 1996.

– Joby Jerrells, a second-career attorney admitted in 2003 who works both in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office as a deputy prosecutor and also a self-employed attorney out of his home in Bloomington.

– Hon. Karen Love, who has been on the Hendricks Superior bench since 1995 after practicing privately and working previously as a certified accountant.

– Melony Sacopulos, who is general counsel at Indiana State University in Terre Haute but has been practicing since 1988.

– Martha Wentworth, tax director at the Greenwood-based multistate group Deloitte Tax LLP who’s previously served in roles that included clerking for the Tax Court in the early 1990s.

These seven will have their next interviews before the commission Oct. 27, and three names will be sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels to consider for the final appointment. Whoever is chosen will replace Judge Thomas G. Fisher, who was the state’s first tax judge in 1986 and is retiring at year’s end.

Leading up to the vote today, the commission had started interviews at 9 a.m. with those interested in the appellate tax court. Fifteen had originally applied, but one person withdrew his name last week. Aside from those named as semi-finalists, also interviewing were Andrew Swain, Hon. Bruce Kolb, Marilyn Meighen, Joseph Pearman, Randle Pollard, Michelle Baldwin, and Thomas Ewbank.

Each person appeared for a 20 minute interview. The chief justice greeted each applicant who came before the commission today, thanking that person for applying and asking everyone about their interest in the judicial spot. The responses were all similar, differing to a degree based on their own experiences. Many said this judicial post would be a logical evolution in their legal careers and that they wanted to continue the practice of having fair and concise caselaw that Judge Fisher has created during the past 24 years.

“I’ve always enjoyed the intellectual puzzles that tax law presents,” Sacopulos said about her interest, delving into her work for a national tax office in Washington, D.C., that she said gave her unique experience.

Commissioners asked some of the same questions to applicants, such as about their views on the Tax Court’s mission and how the court and judge should interact with the legislature on tax law and issues. Members also turned to applicants’ information about their most significant legal matters and also how those experiences might have prepared them for the tax bench.

Judge Love discussed what she calls the “ABCs” of this court, which she described as meaning the attitude of a judge, the balance she can bring based on her experience, and those critical aspects of clarity, consistency, and communication.

In his response, Angelone said he’s focused on tax and public finance work and the Legislative Services Agency is one of the only places you can find a similar caseload to what the Tax Court faces. He noted that two- or three-year waits on some tax issues at the local level isn’t good enough, and more must be done at that stage to make the process more efficient. The bar could help with that, possibly through continuing legal education, he said.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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