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New state public defender, BLE director chosen

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Announcing two new appointments simultaneously, the Indiana Supreme Court has chosen the state public defender and director of the Board of Law Examiners.

The court announced its decisions Thursday, filling the two vacancies and completing search processes that have been under way for months.

Stephen T. Owens of Indianapolis is the new state public defender, one of 43 attorneys who applied to succeed Susan Carpenter after her retirement May 31. He has been a deputy and chief public defender in the statewide office for nearly 25 years after being admitted to practice in October 1985.

Owens immediately begins a four-year term as the administrative head of the 67-person office with about 1,150 ongoing criminal appeals, including two death penalty cases.

“I’m extremely excited and honored, and all I can hope is to maintain what (Carpenter) has established,” Owens told Indiana Lawyer.

In addition to the public defender appointment, the court selected Bradley W. Skolnik as the next BLE leader. The Indianapolis partner at Stewart & Irwin succeeds Linda Loepker, who resigned in early December. More than 91 individuals applied for the post. While the search and review was pending, David Remondini from the Division of State Court Administration temporarily fulfilled the duties of the director.

At Stewart & Irwin, Skolnik practices in the areas of securities regulation, financial services, and general corporate litigation. Prior to his private practice, he worked as the Indiana securities commissioner in the Secretary of State’s office. He served as president of the North American Securities Administration Association, and in that role he has testified before the U.S. Congress.

“Serving as the executive director will afford me a unique opportunity to use the skills I developed as a regulator and private practitioner in an area that deeply interests me,” Skolnik said in a news release. “I passionately support the Board’s role in maintaining the integrity and high standards of the legal profession.”

The state BLE plays a pivotal role in the legal community, overseeing not only the admission of attorneys in Indiana through the bar exam but also administering legal intern certification and the formation and renewal of professional corporations, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships within the legal profession.

 “It is a coup for us to bring Brad Skolnik back to state government,” Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said in a prepared statement. “Having his management and investigatory skills at work in the judicial branch will allow us to continue ensuring the legal profession embraces the highest standards.”

 

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