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Commission interviews COA applicants

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Judicial Nominating Commission conducted its first round of interviews today for the Indiana Court of Appeals vacancy that will be created by Judge John T. Sharpnack's retirement in May 2008.

Fifteen people from Indiana's legal community applied for the appellate court seat.

Nine applicants sat before the commission this morning, including three trial judges, a senator, and the heads of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Indiana Gaming Commission. Interviews started at 9 a.m. and ran until mid-afternoon, all conducted in a conference room down the hall from the Supreme Court's courtroom.

Commissioners asked typical questions, including about how the applicants thought their background would influence or complement their work on the court, what particular areas of law they might like to see addressed, and why they want to be on the court.

When Wayne Superior Judge P. Thomas Snow was interviewing, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said he was impressed with what people said about Judge Snow in how well he treats lawyers and litigants. Chief Justice Shepard said that was reassuring.

When Stephen J. Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, interviewed, Chief Justice Shepard said he was impressed with the connection Johnson has with the different branches of the government and the legal community.

Henry County Prosecutor Kit C. Dean Crane, William H. Mullis, and Morgan Superior Judge Christopher L. Burnham spent time in their interviews talking about their military experience.

Judge Burnham also spoke about his interest in technology and how he wants to continue his involvement with the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee.

The Nominating Commission asked the applicants about how to balance the quantity of cases and the substance of each case decision.

"Each case you look at a little differently on the appellate level - that's where experience kicks in. You have to know when the briefs cross your desk what's important ... it is important to make deliberative and quick decisions but not hasty decisions," Judge Burnham said.

Boone Superior Judge Rebecca S. McClure told the commission about three cases she felt were important and demonstrated her analytical skills. One dealt with home-schooled students who wanted to take one course at a local school. Another was a case involving golf carts being classified as motor vehicles, and the third - which she couldn't say much about because it's ongoing - involves former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau, who is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and aiding, inducing, or causing illegal possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor. All three cases present issues of first impression in Indiana.

Trial judges, prosecutors, and trial lawyers all want one of their own on the appellate court, according to one of the commissioners, who asked applicants what they thought about that sentiment and who they think is the best to serve on the court.

Judge McClure said, "You shouldn't be looking for someone to fit in one of those categories. You want a person who will work hard and loves the law, and will represent the masses."

The seven-member commission will likely choose a short list of applicants by this afternoon. Those selected will return for second interviews slated for Dec. 12. From there, three finalists' names will be given to Gov. Mitch Daniels to make the final decision.
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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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