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Commission conducts first Tax Court judge interviews

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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.
 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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