Justice interviews begin

July 30, 2010
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From IL reporter Michael Hoskins:

Commission members began arriving about 8 a.m.

Once the interviews began, the chief justice welcomed and congratulated each person and then led off with the two-part question that had been sent to each semi-finalist earlier in the week.

JUDGE STEVEN DAVID: He began by asking “Is the rumor true? That I can reserve five minutes for rebuttal at the end?” Garnering a laugh by commission members, the chief justice said, “No, it’s not.” Judge David talked about being first in his family to go to law school

Judge David said the biggest challenge is how the state judiciary stays efficient and relevant without much money, and he said more centralized operation and coordination between the 92 counties must be explored. The court must be as open and transparent as possible in order to make sure litigants have adequate access to justice. The judge noted he wasn’t afraid of cameras in the court.

Commission member Keck asked how a judge should factor political, social, and economic ramifications into their decision-making. The judge responded that he’d separate them all, but that it’s not unusual to factor economic and social impacts into some decisions. But not political impacts, he said.

“This may have lost me the nomination,” he said, “but as a judge, I don’t blog. I don’t Facebook. I don’t want to read what people are saying, though I respect what they’re saying and will defend that right to the death. I make decisions that people have appealed and haven’t been happy about. But they respect the process and my decision enough. I’m fascinated by politics, but that doesn’t have any place in being a judge.”

TOM FISHER: Fisher said his greatest professional accomplishment was being able to argue three cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, two of which he’s won. The most significant was the voter ID decision.

Advocating against and defending lower court decisions is a significant accomplishment in itself, but being successful at the SCOTUS “adds another dimension to my practice.”

As far as changes to the judiciary, Fisher said e-filing was one example that he thought of, a concept that he’d like to see mirror PACER in some ways. Already, JTAC is implementing a statewide case management system and the state has recently started seeking feedback for an appellate system with e-filing being a major aspect. Another area might be for the state judiciary to examine procedural rules about how they mesh with the federal system. There might be an opportunity for Indiana to be proactive on evidentiary rules, and even lead the nation on this. The final area he discussed was addressing how we handle transfer petitions, particularly reviewing the briefing process so that more might be allowed in some cases. Under current system, the Court of Appeals is best place for an amicus party to get involved rather than file a brief on the transfer request.
JUDGE CYNTHIA EMKES: Judge Emkes said her biggest accomplishment is in assisting the judiciary in expanding its knowledge of death penalty cases. “It’s been so satisfying to be a part of that, to attend and teach at conferences where judges seem so much more comfortable after those conferences because of what they’ve learned.”

Regarding the two areas of change the commission members asked candidates to consider, Judge Emkes said she’d to see the high court work to expand problem-solving courts. Right now, re-entry and drug and community courts are great and beneficial, but there aren’t many in the civil arena, she said. She researched about 20 other states that have done this with business courts. Indiana’s courts are backlogged, and it can take a very long time to get cases heard in court and that hurts businesses. Some states have used law schools to help do this, she noted.

Secondly, she’d like to see the Supreme Court give guidance to the lower courts on how to better combat recidivism. Trial judges really haven’t embraced that, she said, and given focus to sentencing and recidivism that they could. Trial court judges need guidance from the Supreme Court, and the judiciary needs to embrace these best practices as soon as possible.

Judge Emkes was asked about the rate of reversals she’s seen from higher appellate courts on her cases – roughly a third. She responded that sentencing disparities are a tough issue to address. The state statutes are good and comparable to other states, but each community is different and judges face many factors in deciding what is an appropriate sentence. She said the toughest ethical issue she faces as a judge is campaign contributions in running for the bench, because any candidate and judge must be careful about what money they can take from attorneys and potential litigants who might appear before them in court.

NEXT UP: Boshkoff, Mulvaney and Steele…



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues