Former Marion Superior judge dies

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Former Marion Superior Judge John "Jan" D. Downer died Aug.10 at the age of 73. Judge Downer was appointed a Marion County Municipal judge in 1978 by Gov. Otis Bowen and served as judge for 22 years. He retired from the Marion Superior Court in 2000 and worked as a senior judge until 2004.

Former colleague and friend Marion Superior Senior Judge Chuck Wiles said Judge Downer was always well-prepared and well-informed about the law and was respected by lawyers.

"I would say Jan may have sometimes been a little stubborn," Judge Wiles said. "He always had a good reason for any decision he made."

The two started working together as municipal judges in the 1970s - before the Marion courts consolidated in the 1990s - and developed a friendship off the bench. Judge Downer loved to travel and the two often traveled together to educational seminars. He loved to prepare trips, find ways to get there, and places to go, said Judge Wiles.

Before becoming a judge, he practiced law for 14 years. Judge Downer received his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in 1964. He was active with the Indiana Bar Association and his church.

Judge Downer is survived by his wife, Betty Grigg Downer; son Jeff Downer; daughter Susan Bradley; stepdaughter Molli Kias; and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, 416 E. North St., Indianapolis. Visitation with a luncheon will follow at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Julian Center or the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Indianapolis Chapter.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.