ILNews

Longtime Indiana Judicial Center education director retires after 30 years

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share


Judicial education inside Indiana used to be much more like law school, where a knowledgeable "professor" would stand at the front of a room and lecture to "students" in the audience about a particular topic.

Once, Indiana focused more on academic judicial education than practical forms of teaching the state's trial and appellate judges.

That was how it was three decades ago, before Cathy Springer signed on as the Indiana Judicial Center's education director. She began Feb. 5, 1980, and those intimately involved with the process credit her leadership for transforming the system into a more interactive, judge-taught process via conferences and for those jurists to keep in touch once back in their own communities.

You might not ever know her role in shaping the state's judiciary if not for historical accounts and testimony from those directly involved. Springer is modest and doesn't put the credit on her shoulders, instead noting it's been a team effort touched by many people to get where it is now. But those who've been a part of Indiana's judicial education system say the state wouldn't be a nationally recognized leader without her leadership.

"Cathy is one of those people who for years has been such a treasure for Indiana judiciary," said Gibson Superior Judge Earl Penrod, a current member of the Indiana Judicial Education Committee who chaired the group for several years.

He described her leadership as being akin to how a duck travels across a pond: she moves smoothly across the water without revealing the continuous paddling happening underwater.

"She's unflappable by appearances and makes it look easy, but there's so much incredible work and dedication she has to making this all happen," he said. "She is a hidden gem for Indiana's judges."

After her 30-year career serving the state's judiciary and helping build up the foundation for what judges do in courtrooms across the state, Indiana is now facing a changing of the educational guard as the longtime director is retiring April 30.

"I have truly enjoyed working in this field; it has been a career of a lifetime," Springer said in a news release. "I sincerely appreciate all of the support and the life lessons I have learned over the years and the valuable friendships I have made."

During her career, Springer has been a part of the judicial center team that's coordinated bench-bar conferences and various judicial education programs, including the Indiana Mentor Judge Program in the 1990s that pairs seasoned jurists with those just taking the bench. She has been a member of the National Association of State Judicial Educators and was involved in a standards committee project, which led to publication of the "Principles and Standards of Judicial Branch Education" that guides judicial curriculum development and educational policy.

In 2005, Springer taught at the Leadership Institute of Judicial Education at the University of Memphis. That allowed her to help teach a program that focused on experiential learning, adult education principles, lifespan development, intellectual and ethical development, and personal development as a means for change. She's also served on the advisory boards for the Leadership Institute and Institute for Faculty Excellence in Judicial Education.

That national experience helped her shift the state's focus, Springer said.

In those early years after she started, the state's system was focused more on legal education taught by law professors at the time, she said. But through her leadership, the system shifted to faculty development in which judges would teach judges about practical items like ethics, demeanor, and overall wellness.

In 2000, the spring judicial conferences began after Springer and a small group traveled to leadership institute in Memphis and came back with ideas about changes here. While an annual conference is spelled out by Indiana statute, it wasn't until a decade ago that the three-day conferences began to offer a typical 18-20 half- or full-day programs, she said.

"It goes way beyond a conference and programs ... it goes back with them to where they're from," Springer said. "Each judge makes decisions on their own, but coming to a conference and sharing and learning together is a critical part of the education process. It's bigger than being a judge in your own court  - you're part of a big judicial family."

Former Lake Superior Judge James Richard, who helped set up the state's judicial education system in the 1970s, agreed that Springer is a key reason why the programs are as successful as they are today. He said she has always brought people together to do what's needed, expanding the program from a law school-situated initiative to that of an entire state judiciary. That's a thought echoed by many others involved in the state and national judicial education scene.

Court of Appeals Judge Nancy Vaidik, who led the education committee for four years, said Springer's leadership helped bring more participation into the way judges are educated.

"Cathy is really looked at nationally for her guidance and what she did for Indiana's most-coveted judicial education," Judge Vaidik said. "She's created a system that will continue with her being gone and that's best characteristic of a leader. This extends her fingers into the future."

The difference from what other states do is evident every time he teaches outside Indiana and then returns for a conference or program here, according to Hamilton Superior Judge William Hughes, who's a member of the judicial education committee and has taught judicial education nationally.

"She's made an indelible mark," he said. "I've taught all over the country and seen it presented here and in other states, but those others don't have the same feel as Indiana conferences do. The big difference is they don't have Cathy Springer. We have a lot to be thankful for."

He credits Springer for first getting him involved with judicial education - something he said is now a passion of his.

"I love to teach, but I wouldn't have ever known that if Cathy hadn't encouraged me to do that for a judicial seminar once," the judge said.

One of the biggest changes she's seen in her career has been the evolution of technology and how that impacts judicial education, Springer said. Now, judges are able to keep in touch through e-mail and listservs long after attending a session or conference and information can be simply posted online for more convenience, she said.

Just because she's retiring from fulltime service, Springer expects she'll still be involved as much as possible. She plans to spend more time with family and friends, traveling, and consulting in the adult education field. The Indiana Judicial Center has launched a search for her successor.

Avoiding sole credit for the three decades of accomplishments, Springer said she hopes her legacy helps ensure Indiana's judicial education continues evolving and expanding.

"To see it can go on, that it was not just a product of one person," she said. "I hope people will continue coming together the way they have and those judges who've been here longer will continue giving back to the judiciary."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

ADVERTISEMENT