Commission conducts first Tax Court judge interviews

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission is interviewing 14 people who’ve applied to be the state’s next Tax Court judge, narrowing down the list to semi-finalists who will return for second interviews in October.

Starting at 9 a.m., the seven-member commission chaired by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard has been questioning those interested in the appellate tax court, which will for the first time since its creation in 1986 see a change in leadership once Judge Thomas G. Fisher retires at year’s end. Fifteen had applied, but one person withdrew his name last week leading up to these first-round interviews.

Before taking an hour-long lunch break, the commission had interviewed Martha Wentworth, George Angelone, Hon. Karen Love, Andrew Swain, Hon. Bruce Kolb, Marilyn Meighen, Joseph Pearman, Joby Jerrells, and Melony Sacopulos. The five remaining following lunch included Dan Carwile, Hon. Carol Comer, Randle Pollard, Michelle Baldwin, and Thomas Ewbank.

Each person appeared for a 20-minute interview. The chief justice greeted each applicant who came before the commission today, thanking that person for applying and asking everyone about their interest in the judicial spot. The responses were all similar, differing to a degree based on their own experiences but with many saying this would be a logical evolution in their legal careers and that they wanted to continue the practice of having fair and concise caselaw that Judge Fisher has created during the past 24 years.

“I’ve always enjoyed the intellectual puzzles that tax law presents,” said Melony Sacopulos, general counsel at Indiana State University, as she discussed her work for a national tax office in Washington, D.C., that she said gave her unique experience.

Commissioners asked some of the same questions to applicants, such as their views on the Tax Court’s mission and how the court and judge should interact with the legislature on tax law and issues. Members also turned to applicants’ information about their most significant legal matters and also how those experiences might have prepared them for the tax bench.

Hendricks Superior Judge Karen Love discussed what she calls the “ABCs” of this court, which she described as meaning the attitude of a judge, the balance she can bring based on her experience, and those critical aspects of clarity, consistency, and communication.

Deputy Attorney General Andrew Swain said he didn’t think that ADR Rule 2.7(b)2 applied to the tax court because the attorney general and the governor must approve any mediated settlements. But in the next interview, Administrative Law Judge Bruce Kolb said he wanted to examine why only one case during the past three years has been referred to mediation. Kolb also said his experience with pro se litigants could be beneficial in an area that is sure to see an increase of those cases in coming years.

Attorney George Angelone, who has spent three decades working for the Legislative Services Agency, said he focused on tax and public finance work and that agency is one of the only places you can find a similar caseload to what the Tax Court faces. He noted that two- or three-year waits on some tax issues at the local level isn’t good enough, and more must be done at that stage to make the process efficient. The bar could help on that, possibly through continuing legal education, he said.

The commission is scheduled to finish interviews this afternoon and begin deliberating in executive session at 4 p.m., and will then hold a public vote on who it chooses as semi-finalists. The second interviews are scheduled for Oct. 27, and the commission will forward three names to the governor to make the final decision.


Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.