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Loretta Rush is Indiana's next justice

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As a Purdue University undergrad in the 1970s, Loretta Hogan took off a semester to backpack around Europe with friends. She returned home and completed her studies on time.

Now appointed to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court, Tippecanoe Superior Judge Loretta Hogan Rush takes such feats in her life in stride. She said Purdue “used to let you take 21 (credit) hours. I used to take 18 to 21 hours and work.”
 

supreme04-15col.jpg Tippecanoe Superior Judge Loretta Rush speaks to reporters Sept. 14 after Gov. Mitch Daniels announced her appointment to the Indiana Supreme Court. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Rush’s colleagues in the Lafayette legal community say that kind of no-nonsense approach is a hallmark of a judge who handles some of the toughest cases in Tippecanoe County – those involving juvenile justice, children in need of services and other matters of family law. They say Rush melds a tireless work ethic, exacting legal judgment, compassion for children and an engaging demeanor.

“She was able to sit in the lobby at the Cary Quad and she could talk to anybody, no matter who they were,” Lisa V. Schrader recalled of their days at Purdue. Now a private practice attorney in Lafayette, Schrader was a sorority sister with Hogan and introduced the future judge to her future husband, James Rush.

“I think she was an excellent choice,” Schrader said. “She’s always worked hard and given 100 percent and always done the right thing in cases she’s had before her.”

Rush will be only the second woman to serve on Indiana’s Supreme Court. Myra Selby served from 1995-1999, and Gov. Mitch Daniels had been pressured to appoint a woman. Until this appointment, Indiana was among just three states, along with Idaho and Iowa, that had no female justices.

Tippecanoe County Bar Association President Patricia Truitt said there was a buzz early on that Rush might be the one selected.

“We knew a lot of women had thrown their hats in the ring,” Truitt said. “Certainly the hope was that they pick Loretta rather than, ‘We hope they pick a woman.’”

Earlier this month, the Tippecanoe Bar hosted an event called “Hail to Our Chiefs” that honored Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson and Court of Appeals Chief Judge Margret Robb, both of whom have deep roots in Lafayette.

Truitt said that Rush, who then was among three finalists for the Supreme Court vacancy, received a standing ovation when she rose to introduce Robb. The appeals court chief’s address focused on inroads that women have made in the legal profession in the last 35 years.

“I think people went out sort of thinking, ‘You know, the time is ripe for a woman and an outstanding woman,’” Truitt said. “I think it was a very good choice, and time will tell if it was truly a brilliant choice.”

Urged on

Rush might not have tossed her hat into the ring without a nudge – or several.

“She had to be persuaded to apply,” said Mike Stapleton, a partner at Ball Eggleston PC in Lafayette who has known Rush for about 25 of the 40 years he’s practiced. Stapleton and others lobbied her.

“It was only after a fair amount of prodding by lawyers and judges that she agreed to do it,” he said.

He said Rush took advantage of mentors, including Dickson, who was a partner at Dickson, Reiling, Teder and Withered when Rush was hired there in 1983. She worked at the firm until 1997, had a private practice for a time, and became a judge in 1998.

“She inherited a financially challenged courtroom situation – it was a couple million dollars in debt. She cleaned up that courtroom and she was clearly the leader and the consensus-maker among the local judges,” Stapleton said. “She has a reputation of being a very tough judge and on top of it being a very nice person, and that’s a really hard thing to do.”

Rush acknowledges her hefty caseload in Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 and said unwinding her obligations means that she probably will join the Supreme Court sometime around the first of November.

“I want to leave my court strong,” she said. “I just want to leave it in good shape.”

Dickson said Rush had indicated as much. “I know she’s very enthusiastic both in doing a sound job to complete the job she’s engaged in but in joining us as well.”

Justice Steven David said he knows Rush well from having worked together on juvenile justice issues. David was a Boone County judge before becoming a justice.

“She was a great trial judge and she’ll be a great addition to this Supreme Court,” David said. “She’s one of those individuals that went to work every day, and every day was a new opportunity to make lives better for families and children.”

The court’s most recent appointee, Justice Mark Massa, said he’s gotten to know Rush during the selection process and since. He noted her work with juvenile justice programs and court technology in particular.

“You look at her résumé and her commitment to the administration of our judicial system across the board, and she’s much more than a case processor. She’s been involved in a lot of things that make the judiciary work,” Massa said. “She will love the job.”

Tough cases

In her application to the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, Rush wrote about a case in which she had served as a guardian ad litem in 1986 for a 14-year-old boy, J.S., who had been a ward of the state in a variety of placements since age 2. In 1998, a month before Rush took the bench, John Jesse Swaynie burst into Rush’s home and attempted to kill Rush’s husband.

Rush had to hide the children and get help. She and her husband were injured, and Swaynie, with whom Rush had kept in intermittent telephone contact over the years, later was convicted of attempted murder and burglary.

Rush said it wouldn’t have made sense to leave out such a prominent event. “I think when I had to put the five most significant legal matters I’ve had, it’s hard not to put that,” she said. “It’s not my favorite thing to write.”

But what she wrote about that experience gave insight into the mindset she took to the bench.

“I look at the children that find themselves in our court system and understand the long-standing toll such things as child abuse, neglect and untreated mental health can have on their adult lives,” Rush wrote.

Teri Flory, who runs a private practice in Lafayette that deals primarily with family law, said Rush and her court are highly organized.

“I enjoy practicing in her court because I know she truly cares about the children,” Flory said. “During hearings it’s very evident she remembers the children and remembers their situations.”

She said Rush hears cases that range from minor juvenile delinquency to children in tragic and heartbreaking circumstances. “To continue to hear that day after day, I can’t imagine the kind of outlet she would have to have,” Flory said.

For Rush, it’s family.

“I have a great husband; that helps,” Rush said. “My kids give me a lot of balance and a lot of perspective. Having a great family, great friends, that gives you the balance you need.”

Truitt said Rush will be missed in the Tippecanoe County Courthouse and for the time she gave to the community. But she also said Rush leaves a remarkable example.

“It’s not unusual for modern women to try to do it all,” Truitt said. “And you can’t do it all. But the way you balance priorities tells a lot about a person, I think.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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