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Day 2 of interviews for justice spot

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By the end of the day, the seven-member Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission will decide who to bring back for a second round of interviews for the state’s next Supreme Court justice.

Interviews continued today for the remaining 15 applicants for the high court to replace retiring Justice Theodore Boehm. Nineteen of the 34 applicants went before the commission Tuesday.

Questions mirrored those asked during the first day, focusing on experience, views on collegiality, judicial philosophy, and what leadership roles the court’s justices should be taking.

In telling members why he’d want to move from Indiana Solicitor General to Supreme Court justice, Thomas Fisher said that he wanted to be a judge since clerking at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals early in his career, and this is the next logical step to be able to think intellectually about the law.

“It comes out of the realization that this won’t last forever, no matter how much I love it,” he said. “The possibility of being a justice on our Supreme Court thrills me to no end.”

Responding to a concern about his lack of trial experience, Fisher told members that his experience understanding the overall court process, including trial level and jury issues, is beneficial.

Marion Superior judges Cynthia Ayers and Robyn Moberly, and Johnson Superior Judge Cynthia Emkes discussed their experience handling nearly every type of case while on the trial-court bench.

Judge Emkes talked specifically about the growth of her county and its impact on the courts while also mentioning her experience in handling the high profile death-penalty case of Michael Dean Overstreet.

Lake Superior Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura discussed her handling of juvenile and family court issues and said that experience could help “breathe new life” into the high court.

Also interviewing today are Boone Circuit Judge Steven H. David; Granger attorney Lyle R. Hardman of Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros; Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes; Howard Superior Judge William C. Menges Jr.; Indianapolis attorney Karl L. Mulvaney of Bingham McHale;, Valparaiso University School of Law distinguished practitioner-in-residence Clare Kraegel Neuchterlein; Indianapolis attorney Curtis E. Shirely; Steubern Circuit Judge Allen N. Wheat; Henry Circuit Judge Mary G. Willis; and Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, chief counsel of consumer protection in the Attorney General’s Office.

The commission goes into executive session at 4 p.m. to discuss the applicants and then will hold a public vote on who will become semi-finalists. Those people return for second interviews July 30 before the three finalists’ names are forwarded to the governor for final consideration and appointment.
 

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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