Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck receives national judicial award

Jennifer Nelson
August 15, 2012
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Allen Superior Judge John F. Surbeck Jr. received the 2012 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence from the National Center for State Courts, the nonprofit organization announced Tuesday. The award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics.

NCSC President Mary C. McQueen said that Surbeck is an inspiration and an example to everyone who works in the justice system.

Surbeck is the founder of reentry courts in Indiana and considered nationally to be a “trailblazer” in this area. The Indiana Legislature in 1999 passed a law known as the Community Transition Statute, which allows each county to develop its own transition program for inmates at the Department of Correction. In 2000, he worked with others to design the Allen County Reentry Court, which opened in July 2001. His decision to create the court came from his professional experience as a public defender from 1972 to 1988. He was appointed to Superior Court in 1988.  

Five years after establishing the court, statistics show that the program has reduced the rate of prisoners reoffending to 34 percent, compared to nearly 60 percent nationally.

“Judge Surbeck has made a tremendous and long-lasting impact on the courts of Indiana and elsewhere and has brought fresh ideas and a proven track record to the seemingly intractable problem of recidivism,” Indiana Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson and Lilia Judson, executive director, Division of State Court Administration, said in a letter of reference for the award.

Surbeck will receive his award from Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. Nov. 15 during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.



  • ????????
    Please give me a brake, this "judge" is nothing more than a puppet on this town 100% manipulated by the procecuting attorney and the fort wayne system is a shame to have this kind of people in our society i have my own reasons I used to think that he was inpartial and fair, but i found out I was wrong, I m glad theres is a real judge at the end of our lives and that is the one we have to worry about, this guy is a shame to our justice system.

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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise