ILNews

Boone Circuit Judge Steven David to succeed retiring Justice Theodore R. Boehm

Back to TopE-mailPrint

Judge Steven H. David said he would have been content staying in his job as Boone Circuit judge for the rest of his legal career.

But he took a chance, overcoming an initial doubt that he should apply for an Indiana Supreme Court opening and ultimately rising to the top of 34 attorneys and judges to become the state’s 106th justice. He replaces retiring Justice Theodore R. Boehm.
 

David David

Just as he’d once dreamed of being the first in his family to go to college, enroll in law school, and embrace a 25-year military career, the 15-year trial judge has once again achieved his dream that stems from his life goal of giving back through public service.

“I feel like I’ve won the Steve David professional lottery and I don’t have to give the money back,” he said about a week after hearing the news, stepping away from the annual judicial conference in Indianapolis to talk about his experience. “Everything in my life is about public service, and this is not something that I planned on doing but something that just came along. The lesson learned is it’s OK to dream. Hard work can pay off.”



Gov. Mitch Daniels announced his decision Sept. 17, selecting Judge David from a field of finalists that also included Marion Superior Judge Robyn Moberly and Indianapolis appellate attorney Karl Mulvaney. The governor said Judge David stood out for his distinguished years on the trial bench, his past experience as corporate counsel, and his longtime military legal career.

Following Justice Boehm’s retirement announcement in May, Judge David was one of the initial 34 applicants for the spot. The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission in July chose him as one of nine semi-finalists who’d return for second interviews before it narrowed the field to the final three. Click here to read Judge David's application.


Mitch Daniels Daniels

The governor said that from Judge David, he heard “the clearest expression of commitment to proper restraint in jurisprudence and deep respect for the boundaries of judicial decision-making. He will be a judge who interprets, rather than invents our laws.”

Paving the way to justice

A 1982 graduate of Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, Judge David started on the Boone Circuit bench in 1995. Before taking the bench, he began his legal career as an associate working at Richard Eynon’s law firm in Columbus where he’d been clerking for two years during law school. He handled primarily personal injury and general law during his time there before moving on to practice family law and civil litigation at the Columbus law firm that became Cline King King & David. He returned to practice with Eynon for almost two years before becoming corporate counsel in 1988 for Mayflower Transit in Carmel.

That took him away from Bartholomew County where he’d hoped to one day became a judge. Instead, he settled in Boone County, where he would ultimately serve on the bench.

Elected in 1994 and taking the bench in January 1995, he’s presided over all types of civil, criminal, and juvenile matters. He also served as special judge by Supreme Court appointment, and hearing officer or special master in attorney and judicial misconduct cases. Some of his more noteworthy cases through the years have been his special judging on the Zolo Azania death penalty case in 2005 and the capital case of Mark Lichtenberger in 1999, which involved the execution-style shooting of a state trooper and led to a life without parole plus 20-year sentence.

Most recently Judge David presided over the ongoing disciplinary case against Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney – a matter that he’ll likely have to recuse himself on once it reaches the Supreme Court for a decision about potential sanctions. As juvenile judge in the county, Judge David also has been a vocal advocate for families and on juvenile law, and he’s proud that through the years he’s never been overturned on appeal in a parental-rights termination matter.

He’s testified through the years about those issues, as well as speaking about other general legal matters and developing the Boone County Continuing Legal Education program.

But on top of that distinguished career in private practice, the corporate world, and as a trial judge, what made Judge David an even more fascinating choice was his distinguished military and related legal career. The son of a retired U.S. Air Force man, Judge David spent his early childhood on bases in the Azores near Portugal and in Oklahoma and Maryland before his dad retired and the family settled in Bartholomew County. That experience with military service led him to join the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in 1982 soon after his law school graduation.

He remained in the Army Reserves and moved up the ranks to get special top secret clearance, receiving multiple military awards, and serving in various roles in active duty through the years. Judge David has helped reform the treatment of detainees in Iraq and served as chief defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainees, as well as served as military judge and legal advocate.

After a long and distinguished military career, Judge David retired from his service Sept. 1, which paved the way for his new role on the state Supreme Court.

“Everything I’ve done has helped prepare me for the next chapter of my life,” the judge said. “I look forward to working with the absolute best Supreme Court in the United States, the absolute best Court of Appeals, and all the trial judges and every lawyer. Most importantly, I look forward to serving the citizens of the state of Indiana.”

In the legal community, court watchers say that Judge David’s varied experience make him someone who differs from the current lineup and will add a new dimension to the state’s highest court. His appointment also shifts the court’s balance in favor of those with past judicial experience, as he, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, and Justice Robert Rucker all hail from the trial or appellate bench while Justices Brent Dickson and Frank Sullivan came from the practicing lawyer ranks.

Reaction

Sitting in the courtroom where he’ll soon preside, Judge David said he hopes he always remains in awe about being a part of such a professional, civilized, and historic part of the legal system. He said this appointment isn’t about him and he’s trying to remain modest, though he can’t help smiling and chuckling when putting his head on the pillow at night.

Though he hasn’t yet had the chance, Judge David said he plans to spend time researching the history of Indiana Supreme Court justices so that he knows more about those whose portraits hang on the walls of the ornate courtroom in the Statehouse. He still can’t believe that his photo will be placed up there, and he can only hope to follow the leadership that Justice Boehm has displayed.

“I hope some aspect of my past is of benefit to the process,” Judge David said. “This isn’t about me, it’s about the process, about embracing the rule of law.”

Judge David said he hopes to add to the already-strong sense of professionalism and civility displayed by the court but doesn’t know how his presence might shift the dynamic.

“I am going to be the same person I was, and that won’t change,” he said, adding that he hopes the other four justices are ready for that. “It hasn’t set in, and I hope it never does. The moment you are not in awe about this courtroom or this process is the day you should quit.”

Those who know Judge David say he’ll offer a perspective on juveniles and family law that the Supreme Court doesn’t currently have.

Boone County Bar Association president Michael Schultz, an attorney at Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson in Lebanon, said the governor couldn’t have made a better a choice.

“While (we) fully appreciate the loss that will be felt with Judge David leaving the bench here, we also recognize that his experience and his considerable talents will be best utilized by serving not just the citizens of Boone County, but all citizens of our state.”

Judge David is finalizing his work in Boone County before making the transition, which is expected in mid-October. The court’s public information officer Kathryn Dolan said that means the court will see an 18-day gap where there are only four justices because Justice Boehm steps down Sept. 30, the day of his retirement ceremony. An investiture ceremony for Judge David is planned for Oct. 18 and that ceremony will be webcast live online; previous investitures are also archived online. The governor is responsible for selecting someone to succeed Judge David on the trial bench and complete the term that runs through 2012.•
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

ADVERTISEMENT