Court hasn't chosen new state public defender

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

State Public Defender Susan Carpenter retires Tuesday after nearly three decades in that position, and no decision has been made as to who will succeed her.

While a five-person committee continues reviewing and interviewing applicants to succeed Carpenter, Indiana Supreme Court Public Information Officer Kathryn Dolan said the court has not decided whether it will name someone in the interim.

That means the Indiana State Public Defender’s Office will be without a clear administrative leader for the first time in 30 years, since Carpenter took that role in October 1981.

“The court is considering how to proceed and is being thoughtful and careful in deciding what happens next,” Dolan said. “The office moves forward regardless, it’s not going to come to a halt.”

The court is taking a different approach than it has with other court agencies and offices that have recently found themselves temporarily without a leader. The court named interim leaders for the Indiana Board of Law Examiners and Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission when those administrative positions were vacated. The second-in-command at the Disciplinary Commission took over as executive sectary for about five months until the court named G. Michael Witte to the position in May 2010, and Dave Remondini in the Division of State Court Administration has been the interim BLE director for about six months after Linda Loepker left in early December. A search remains ongoing, with more than 90 people applying for that post.

The chief state deputy public defender could take over that office’s administrative role, but Carpenter said it would be up to the court to decide whether that would happen or if it would make an interim appointment. She said she understands the search is moving along quickly.

Carpenter announced her retirement Feb. 16, and applications for that position were due April 10. A five-person panel was named in April to review those applications and recommend an unspecified number of finalists to the Supreme Court for consideration.

Dolan said the panel continues to review applications and interview applicants. The panel is chaired by Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck. Other members are Valparaiso University School of Law professor Derrick Carter, Terre Haute defense attorney Jessie Cook, former Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco, and Indianapolis attorney Jimmie McMillian. McMillian also chairs the board of directors of the Marion County Public Defender Agency.

Dolan said no deadline currently exists for the justices to make a decision.

The state public defender is the administrative head of a 67-person office with about 1,150 ongoing cases, including two capital cases.


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.