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Former Indiana appellate deputy clerk dies

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A former deputy clerk for Indiana’s appellate courts died July 5 in Wisconsin from complications following a heart transplant.

David Ray Schanker, 55, served as deputy clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court for seven years until he joined the Wisconsin court system in 2007. Schanker earned his law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington and served as judicial clerk for two years to then-Chief Judge John T. Sharpnack of the Court of Appeals in the 1990s. He practiced at Kightlinger & Grey before working for the appellate court.

Judge Sharpnack, now a senior judge, said that Schanker was the first person he ever hired during their job interview. Before his legal career, Schanker – a New Jersey native – worked in theatre and film, earning an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He authored several short stories, legal-themed novels, and plays. That experience with language also helped encourage Judge Sharpnack to hire him.

“He was clearly a bright person,” the judge said. “He was extremely helpful, very hard working, very bright, empathetic, and concerned about the people in the cases we were working on.”

While serving as Judge Sharpnack’s clerk, Schanker wrote a mystery about a clerk on the court of appeals. The judge said he was nervous the project, but that it turned out fine.

“He assured me I wasn’t like the character of the judge on the court of appeals,” he said.

Schanker brought computer literacy skills to the court, as well as persuaded Judge Sharpnack to introduce casual Fridays and donuts and conversations on that day. That tradition lasted long after Schanker left, he said.

“He was one of my very best clerks and a person I have a high admiration for,” he said.

Schanker had a heart transplant in March and passed away after developing an infection in his gallbladder at the end of June.

He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Buchko, daughters Inez Chesire Buchko Schanker and Julia Xhikuang Buchko Schanker; sister Beth Hume, and parents Robert and Claire Schanker.•

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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