Former Indiana appellate deputy clerk dies

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A former deputy clerk for Indiana’s appellate courts died July 5 in Wisconsin from complications following a heart transplant.

David Ray Schanker, 55, served as deputy clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court for seven years until he joined the Wisconsin court system in 2007. Schanker earned his law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington and served as judicial clerk for two years to then-Chief Judge John T. Sharpnack of the Court of Appeals in the 1990s. He practiced at Kightlinger & Grey before working for the appellate court.

Judge Sharpnack, now a senior judge, said that Schanker was the first person he ever hired during their job interview. Before his legal career, Schanker – a New Jersey native – worked in theatre and film, earning an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He authored several short stories, legal-themed novels, and plays. That experience with language also helped encourage Judge Sharpnack to hire him.

“He was clearly a bright person,” the judge said. “He was extremely helpful, very hard working, very bright, empathetic, and concerned about the people in the cases we were working on.”

While serving as Judge Sharpnack’s clerk, Schanker wrote a mystery about a clerk on the court of appeals. The judge said he was nervous the project, but that it turned out fine.

“He assured me I wasn’t like the character of the judge on the court of appeals,” he said.

Schanker brought computer literacy skills to the court, as well as persuaded Judge Sharpnack to introduce casual Fridays and donuts and conversations on that day. That tradition lasted long after Schanker left, he said.

“He was one of my very best clerks and a person I have a high admiration for,” he said.

Schanker had a heart transplant in March and passed away after developing an infection in his gallbladder at the end of June.

He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Buchko, daughters Inez Chesire Buchko Schanker and Julia Xhikuang Buchko Schanker; sister Beth Hume, and parents Robert and Claire Schanker.•


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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