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Former COA chief judge, IBF founder dies

November 7, 2008

A former chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals and a founder of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation died Thursday.

Judge Paul H. Buchanan Jr., 90, served nine years as chief judge of the Court of Appeals after being elected to the bench in 1971. He was active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, serving as president, at which time he helped organize the Indianapolis Bar Foundation in 1968. He served on the IBF's original board of directors until he retired from it in 1999. Judge Buchanan is also credited with helping re-start the IBF's Ask-A-Lawyer program.

The Indianapolis Bar Association created an award in 1990 named after the judge, who was a longtime supporter of the IBA and IBF.

"Judge Buchanan was the heart and soul of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation through his generous support and continuing interests in promoting a positive image for lawyers through the good work done by the foundation," said Mary Marsh, an IBA past president and 2003 recipient of the Buchanan Award, in an e-mail.

Nancy J. Gargula, president of the IBF in 1999 and 2000, said in a statement that it was Judge Buchanan's commitment and dedication to the legal profession, his leadership, and vision that led to the establishment of the IBF.

"When I look at all the Foundation has accomplished in the ensuing years, Judge Buchanan's impact on the Indianapolis community is truly remarkable," she said.

Before becoming a judge, he was a managing partner at law firm Bose Buchanan McKinney Evans; he retired from the Court of Appeals Jan. 1, 1993.

Current Court of Appeals Chief Judge John G. Baker said Judge Buchanan and another former chief judge, Jonathan Robertson, who passed away in October, were the first ones to talk with him about considering joining the Court of Appeals.

The chief judge remembered Judge Buchanan as a renaissance man, one who could discuss sports, arts, literature, and politics in any order. The chief judge worked with Judge Buchanan for nearly four years on the Court of Appeals and knew him as an interesting, accomplished gentleman.

"I think the most lasting thing I will remember about Judge Buchanan is his insistence on clarity and language," said Chief Judge Baker. "He was a wordsmith."

Chief Judge Baker alluded to Judge Buchanan's articles in "Res Gestae," which helped others refine their writing.

Judge Buchanan had a keen interest in the arts and was a collector and longtime arts community supporter. Chief Judge Baker also remembered Judge Buchanan as someone who was very proud of the judiciary, who wanted to protect its integrity and keep the court out of partisan politics.

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