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Former Marion Superior judge dies

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Former Marion Superior Judge John "Jan" D. Downer died Aug.10 at the age of 73. Judge Downer was appointed a Marion County Municipal judge in 1978 by Gov. Otis Bowen and served as judge for 22 years. He retired from the Marion Superior Court in 2000 and worked as a senior judge until 2004.

Former colleague and friend Marion Superior Senior Judge Chuck Wiles said Judge Downer was always well-prepared and well-informed about the law and was respected by lawyers.

"I would say Jan may have sometimes been a little stubborn," Judge Wiles said. "He always had a good reason for any decision he made."

The two started working together as municipal judges in the 1970s - before the Marion courts consolidated in the 1990s - and developed a friendship off the bench. Judge Downer loved to travel and the two often traveled together to educational seminars. He loved to prepare trips, find ways to get there, and places to go, said Judge Wiles.

Before becoming a judge, he practiced law for 14 years. Judge Downer received his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in 1964. He was active with the Indiana Bar Association and his church.

Judge Downer is survived by his wife, Betty Grigg Downer; son Jeff Downer; daughter Susan Bradley; stepdaughter Molli Kias; and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, 416 E. North St., Indianapolis. Visitation with a luncheon will follow at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Julian Center or the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Indianapolis Chapter.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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