ILNews

Indiana Northern District judge dies

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2009
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U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp in the Northern District of Indiana died at his home Friday, ending more than 30 years on the federal bench. He was 77.

A notice of his death was posted on the Northern District of Indiana's Web site Friday.

Appointed to the federal bench Oct. 11, 1973, by President Richard Nixon, Judge Sharp took the bench that following month and served until taking senior status in November 2007. He was the fourth longest-serving active District judge in the country.

During his time on the bench, Judge Sharp served as chief judge of that court from 1981 to 1996, and he presided over jury trials in four different districts and sat periodically with Circuit Courts of Appeals in Chicago, Washington D.C., and New Orleans.

He had been involved in many significant civil and criminal cases, including the desegregation of the Fort Wayne elementary schools, a public display of the Ten Commandments in Elkhart, and the quadruple murder case of Joseph Corcoran in which he overturned the death sentence.

Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Brown County, Indiana, Judge Sharp earned his law degree in 1957 from Indiana University School of Law; he was also awarded an honorary doctor of civil laws later in his career from Indiana State University. Judge Sharp practiced law in Williamsport from 1957 to 1968 before serving on the Indiana Appellate Court - the precursor to the Indiana Court of Appeals - from 1969 until his federal appointment in 1973

Aside from the law, he also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1957 to 1984, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Judge Sharp is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.
 
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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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