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Experienced applicants file for Supreme Court vacancy

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Sixteen men and five women applied to succeed Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker, the Judicial Nominating Commission announced Friday.

justice-names.gif More than half the candidates have been interviewed by the commission for past appellate court vacancies, and several have been finalists or semifinalists to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court or the Indiana Court of Appeals. The applicants include eight judges, six law firm partners, four solo practitioners, a lawmaker, a state attorney, and a recently suspended lawyer who’s suing the Indiana Supreme Court.

Rucker will retire this spring after 26 years on the bench. Initial candidate interviews will take place March 20-22 with semifinalists interviewed April 17-19. Gov. Eric Holcomb will select the next justice from three finalists chosen by the commission.

Hostetler and Kincaid were two of the three names the commission forwarded to Gov. Mike Pence last year, when he chose Geoffrey Slaughter as the state’s 109th justice, replacing Brent Dickson. Carmichael, Rusthoven and Washburne were semifinalists last year for the position.

Likewise, Granger was a semifinalist for appointment to the state’s high court in 2012, when Justice Mark Massa was appointed to the bench to replace former Chief Justice Randall Shepard. Goff, meanwhile, was one of three finalists nominated for a seat on the Indiana Court of Appeals that ultimately was filled by Judge Robert Altice.

Hardman, Medlock, Oss, Owens and Weissmann also have been interviewed for past Supreme Court vacancies, and Creason has been a candidate for a past Court of Appeals vacancy.

Meanwhile, the commission has an application from an attorney the Supreme Court suspended last month for filing lawsuits the court deemed frivolous. Andrew U.D. Straw, an Illinois attorney who formerly worked for the court, has sued the court claiming discrimination on the basis of disability.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said the commission planned to meet Monday in executive session to determine eligibility of candidates, after which an interview schedule will be determined. According to the court, when the March interview schedule is made public, applications and photographs will be available online here. Attachments, including writing samples and transcripts, will be available in the Supreme Court Law Library.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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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