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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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