ILNews

COA Judge John T. Sharpnack retires

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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After 17 years on the appellate bench, Judge John T. Sharpnack is retiring today from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Though he's stepping down as a full-time jurist, Judge Sharpnack plans to continue his work as a senior judge starting Monday; he reaches the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 75 May 7.

A 3 p.m. retirement ceremony was planned to mark his departure from the court, with Chief Judge John Baker presiding. Judge Sharpnack's family, colleagues, former law clerks, and special guests were expected to attend. A webcast of the ceremony can be viewed online.

During his tenure, Judge Sharpnack authored a total 2,124 opinions, handing down four published opinions in the past week and circulating another 10 for votes that will be handed down after he becomes a senior judge, according to a court spokeswoman. He's also been on panels of other decisions issued this week, including today's ruling on Bonner v. Daniels that involved the judiciary's review of public school financing.

A Columbus, Ind., native, Judge Sharpnack has been an attorney for more than four decades after graduating from the University of Cincinnati's College of Law in 1960. He's worked as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division in Washington, D.C., and also was a partner at his hometown firm his grandfather founded, Sharpnack Bigley David & Rumple.

He was appointed to the appellate court's fifth district in January 1991 by then-Gov. Evan Bayh and has been retained twice since then. His judicial colleagues recalled one of his most recognized accomplishments on the bench was the nine years he'd served as chief judge between Sept. 9, 1992, and Dec. 31, 2001. During that time, some of his accomplishments include the court's creation of a motions panel to rule on motions made prior to a case being fully briefed, initiating a rotating panel system for deciding cases, and starting the court's senior judge program - of which he'll now be taking advantage.

With his departure, Judge Elaine B. Brown from Dubois Superior Court will succeed Judge Sharpnack on the appellate bench. The governor chose her for the spot in February from finalists selected earlier in the year by the Judicial Nominating Commission; 15 had originally applied.

This marks the second time in a year the appellate court has welcomed a new judge; last August, Judge Cale Bradford from Marion Superior Court succeeded Judge Patrick D. Sullivan, who reached the mandatory retirement age and has taken senior judge status.
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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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