Editorial: New justice brings much to appreciate

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
September 29, 2010
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

Congratulations to Indiana’s 106th justice, the Honorable Steven David of the Boone Circuit Court.

Judge David brings to the bench a broad diversity of experience that will be a tremendous asset to the Indiana Supreme Court, and thereby to us all. The son of a career Air Force man, Judge David recently retired from his own military career, having served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. During his military service, he helped reform the treatment of detainees in Iraq and served as chief defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

But there’s more to appreciate about soon-to-be Justice David: He has served as special judge by Supreme Court appointment, and hearing officer or special master in attorney and judicial misconduct cases. And as juvenile judge in Boone County, Judge David also has been a vocal advocate for families and on juvenile law. He’s justifiably proud that he’s never been overturned on appeal in a parental-rights termination case.

But to end our discussion of his appointment to the high court here would overlook the elephant in the room: Half of the state of Indiana is still waiting for another justice who looks like them.

Women make up half of the bar, half of the state, half of the nation, half of the world, and yet Indiana remains one of two states in the union without a woman on its court of last resort.

We will repeat here the words we used in our July 7-20 editorial – words from our archives from Supreme Court Justice Randall T. Shepard: “I have no doubt what the future looks like. The only question is, when will that future roll around?” The chief justice pondered that in a news story that ran in our newspaper shortly after Justice Robert Rucker was named to the high court in 1999.

All the women of the state of Indiana, not just the women lawyers and judges, would like to know the answer to that question.

We were intrigued by the observation of Kathy L. Osborn, a partner at Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis, who believes one factor working against women being appointed to the high court is the fact there has never been a woman lawyer on the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission and Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission.

The bar in Indiana’s district 2 will vote next month on a vacancy that opens at year’s end, when LewisWagner partner John Trimble’s term ends Dec. 31. Five central Indiana lawyers are in the running.

Osborn and Barnes & Thornburg partner Jan Carroll are two of the five candidates.

Women have served on the commission since it was created in 1970, but all were non-attorneys appointed by the governor. The current female member, Evansville resident Christine Keck, is director of strategy and business development for renewable energy at Energy Systems Group in Newburgh. Her term also expires in December.

“The disappointing fact that Indiana only ever has had one female Supreme Court justice, and currently has none, is an historical one that goes to the cumulative decisions that have been made over nearly two centuries,” Osborn told our reporter for a news story on Page 3 about the commission election.

She isn’t critical of Judge David’s recent appointment to the high court, but she’s eager to lay the groundwork for the appointment of women to our high court.

“I am interested in serving on the Judicial Nominating Commission in part because I believe the fact that there has never been a female attorney on that commission could be one factor of many that has impacted historical nominating and appointment decisions.”

Perhaps Osborne is onto something.

Regardless, the women of Indiana are still waiting for the future to roll around.•


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."