ILNews

COA Judge John T. Sharpnack retires

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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After 17 years on the appellate bench, Judge John T. Sharpnack is retiring today from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Though he's stepping down as a full-time jurist, Judge Sharpnack plans to continue his work as a senior judge starting Monday; he reaches the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 75 May 7.

A 3 p.m. retirement ceremony was planned to mark his departure from the court, with Chief Judge John Baker presiding. Judge Sharpnack's family, colleagues, former law clerks, and special guests were expected to attend. A webcast of the ceremony can be viewed online.

During his tenure, Judge Sharpnack authored a total 2,124 opinions, handing down four published opinions in the past week and circulating another 10 for votes that will be handed down after he becomes a senior judge, according to a court spokeswoman. He's also been on panels of other decisions issued this week, including today's ruling on Bonner v. Daniels that involved the judiciary's review of public school financing.

A Columbus, Ind., native, Judge Sharpnack has been an attorney for more than four decades after graduating from the University of Cincinnati's College of Law in 1960. He's worked as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division in Washington, D.C., and also was a partner at his hometown firm his grandfather founded, Sharpnack Bigley David & Rumple.

He was appointed to the appellate court's fifth district in January 1991 by then-Gov. Evan Bayh and has been retained twice since then. His judicial colleagues recalled one of his most recognized accomplishments on the bench was the nine years he'd served as chief judge between Sept. 9, 1992, and Dec. 31, 2001. During that time, some of his accomplishments include the court's creation of a motions panel to rule on motions made prior to a case being fully briefed, initiating a rotating panel system for deciding cases, and starting the court's senior judge program - of which he'll now be taking advantage.

With his departure, Judge Elaine B. Brown from Dubois Superior Court will succeed Judge Sharpnack on the appellate bench. The governor chose her for the spot in February from finalists selected earlier in the year by the Judicial Nominating Commission; 15 had originally applied.

This marks the second time in a year the appellate court has welcomed a new judge; last August, Judge Cale Bradford from Marion Superior Court succeeded Judge Patrick D. Sullivan, who reached the mandatory retirement age and has taken senior judge status.
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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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