Commission interviews COA applicants

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Judicial Nominating Commission conducted its first round of interviews today for the Indiana Court of Appeals vacancy that will be created by Judge John T. Sharpnack's retirement in May 2008.

Fifteen people from Indiana's legal community applied for the appellate court seat.

Nine applicants sat before the commission this morning, including three trial judges, a senator, and the heads of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Indiana Gaming Commission. Interviews started at 9 a.m. and ran until mid-afternoon, all conducted in a conference room down the hall from the Supreme Court's courtroom.

Commissioners asked typical questions, including about how the applicants thought their background would influence or complement their work on the court, what particular areas of law they might like to see addressed, and why they want to be on the court.

When Wayne Superior Judge P. Thomas Snow was interviewing, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said he was impressed with what people said about Judge Snow in how well he treats lawyers and litigants. Chief Justice Shepard said that was reassuring.

When Stephen J. Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, interviewed, Chief Justice Shepard said he was impressed with the connection Johnson has with the different branches of the government and the legal community.

Henry County Prosecutor Kit C. Dean Crane, William H. Mullis, and Morgan Superior Judge Christopher L. Burnham spent time in their interviews talking about their military experience.

Judge Burnham also spoke about his interest in technology and how he wants to continue his involvement with the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee.

The Nominating Commission asked the applicants about how to balance the quantity of cases and the substance of each case decision.

"Each case you look at a little differently on the appellate level - that's where experience kicks in. You have to know when the briefs cross your desk what's important ... it is important to make deliberative and quick decisions but not hasty decisions," Judge Burnham said.

Boone Superior Judge Rebecca S. McClure told the commission about three cases she felt were important and demonstrated her analytical skills. One dealt with home-schooled students who wanted to take one course at a local school. Another was a case involving golf carts being classified as motor vehicles, and the third - which she couldn't say much about because it's ongoing - involves former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau, who is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and aiding, inducing, or causing illegal possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor. All three cases present issues of first impression in Indiana.

Trial judges, prosecutors, and trial lawyers all want one of their own on the appellate court, according to one of the commissioners, who asked applicants what they thought about that sentiment and who they think is the best to serve on the court.

Judge McClure said, "You shouldn't be looking for someone to fit in one of those categories. You want a person who will work hard and loves the law, and will represent the masses."

The seven-member commission will likely choose a short list of applicants by this afternoon. Those selected will return for second interviews slated for Dec. 12. From there, three finalists' names will be given to Gov. Mitch Daniels to make the final decision.

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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.