COA Judge John T. Sharpnack retires

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
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.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.