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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. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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