Chinn: Why I Want to Be Like Judge Darden When I Grow Up (and You Should Too) or … Why Julie Armstrong Loves Carr Darden

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iba-chinn-scottI was pleased to have been invited on July 25 to provide a few remarks on behalf of the Indianapolis Bar Association on the occasion of the retirement of Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Carr L. Darden at a ceremony held in the Indiana Supreme Court. There were about a dozen speakers that offered remarks about Judge Darden, his career and his family. Judge Darden has served on the Indiana Court of Appeals for 18 years and served as a Marion Superior Judge and Marion Municipal Court Judge before his appointment to the appellate bench.

For those of you who weren’t there, I wish you could have been. Reflecting on the career and works of Judge Darden through the observations of the many speakers and Judge Darden’s own remarks provided one of those opportunities that one gets from time to time to chant a mantra to oneself without hyperbole or irony to the effect: “lawyers make a difference, good people can win in the end, the world isn’t going explode soon.”

Suffice it to say, Judge Darden was presented with many accolades and gifts. The IndyBar, as has become its custom for these occasions, will prepare a written biographical history of the judge’s career to be posted both at and on Wikipedia. Here are the remarks I delivered at the ceremony.

Chief Judge Robb, may it please the Court,

On behalf of the more than 5,000 members of the Indianapolis Bar Association, I want to extend my congratulations to you, Judge Darden, on your stellar judicial career and for your public service.

Judge Darden was appointed to the court of appeals the year I became a lawyer, so I never had the chance to appear in front of him as a trial judge. I did however argue appellate cases to him, and what I can testify to about that experience is his uncanny ability to ask probing questions accompanied with a quizzical expression forcing the advocate to put up or shut up – but doing so without conveying any hint of meanness or superiority. In that way, his judicial temperament has seemed completely in the service of his role to get it right and do justice.

But Carr Darden has been more than more than just a good judge. He has been a leader in the profession. In 2004, Judge Darden received the Paul H. Buchanan Award of Excellence – the highest award the Indianapolis Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Foundation can give a lawyer for service to the bar and profession. For those achievements, he is simply the standard by which others are measured.

My mention of these successes is necessarily summary. And other speakers will more ably extol Judge Darden’s many virtues. So, I want to focus my comments with a brief anecdote. The Indianapolis Bar Association’s signature event each year is its Bench-Bar conference held in June. This year, the 19th annual conference was held in French Lick. On the day the conference began, IndyBar Executive Director Julie Armstrong and I were staffing the registration desk when Judge Darden approached us. He strolled up to us wearing blue jeans and wearing his trademark grin and friendly disposition. Characteristically, he was checking in with us earlier than most others – taking the time to know the lay of the land at the conference, as he would be one of our panelists on the criminal law track during the second day.

As Judge Darden later walked away from the desk, I vividly recall Julie saying spontaneously, “I love Carr Darden.” Now Julie has been a bar executive for more than 20 years and is recognized by her peers to be one of the leading executives in the country. So, I take her exclamation not as indicative of a school girl crush – although you might not want to dismiss that possibility, Your Honor. Rather, I think what Julie was trying to sum up in those words was what bar leaders know about Judge Darden:

that he embodies the best spirit of advancing the relationship between bench and bar;

that he is equally comfortable in blue jeans compared to his judicial robe, which makes him approachable and instructive to senior lawyers and young lawyers alike; and

that in his personal interactions, he gives you the sense that he wants the best from you and also the best for you.

For all those reasons, I am able to say on behalf of the Indianapolis Bar Association, “we love Carr Darden.” Congratulations judge.•


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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.