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Indiana justice finalists named

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An appellate judge, former prosecutor and governor’s counsel, and the leader of the Indiana Judicial Center are the finalists to become the state’s 107th justice on the Indiana Supreme Court.

After semi-finalist interviews Feb. 22, the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission selected Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Executive Director Mark Massa, and Indiana Judicial Center Executive Director Jane Seigel as finalists.

The seven-member commission, chaired by Chief Justice Randall Shepard, spent more than four hours deliberating behind closed doors before making their announcement shortly after 5 p.m. Fifteen had applied for the opening and after first-round interviews Feb. 9, the commission chose seven to return for second interviews.

Now, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will choose who will replace Shepard, who is retiring March 23.

The other semi-finalists were Floyd Superior Judge Maria Granger, Columbus attorney Steven Schultz, Marion Superior Judge Robyn Moberly, and Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice Jr.

Each semi-finalist began the second round of interviews by answering a two-part question received prior to the session: “What is your finest professional accomplishment or contribution, and name two things that need improving in the Indiana court system that a justice might help solve.” Those were the same questions the commission asked during Supreme Court justice interviews in 2010.

The commission posed similar questions to each applicant, asking about the greatest ethical challenges the semi-finalists have faced, how they’d work with other judges and lawmakers, and what role they think a justice should have in statewide initiatives such as technology or court reform. Each person was also asked whether gender diversity should be a factor in choosing the next justice.

 All said it was important, but that diversity should be just one part of the “most qualified” list sent to the governor.

“When people see judges that look like them or act like them,” Seigel said, “it gives them more confidence in the court system. If I am selected to the Supreme Court, I would hope it would be because of my abilities … not just because I am a woman.”

If Seigel is chosen, she would be only the second woman to sit on the state’s highest bench. Indianapolis attorney Myra Selby was the first and only woman to be an Indiana justice, serving from 1995 to 1999 before returning to private practice. Justice Robert Rucker, the first and only justice who was elevated from the Indiana Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, replaced Selby. Bradford would become the second if selected by Daniels.

“Diversity takes a lot of different forms,” Bradford told the commission. “We all bring different personal and professional experiences.”

justiceWhen asked about judicial philosophy, Seigel described hers as one that includes fairness and consistency. She said she would judge each case individually and apply the plain meaning of the statute. Bradford cited his deference to trial courts as fact finders and to the Legislature that’s elected to make policy, as well as how he saw the judiciary’s role of “informing, directing, and inspiring.”

Massa was not asked the question about judicial philosophy, but he mentioned “impartiality and reasoned judgment” in answering another question about what people can expect from judges. He also said criminal defense lawyers would get fair treatment before him despite his background as a federal and state prosecutor and that his experience would translate to civil cases because his four years as Daniels’ chief counsel involved civil law areas.

Massa also faced questions from the commission about his 2010 run for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, where he ran an ad criticizing his opponent, Terry Curry, for previously representing a convicted child molester. Commission member Jim McDonald said he found the ad “disturbing,” and Massa responded that different rules apply between political campaigns and the legal community. He emphasized how he has worked collegially and civilly with both sides during his career.

“There are different rules of engagement at play in a political campaign than in the bench and bar, particularly in highly contentious hardball campaigns like that. It’s a tough, nasty, brutish business. I can’t un-ring that bell now, but I can say I’m proud of my career as a lawyer and the choices I’ve made. If appointed, maintaining civility in the bar would be a high priority,” Massa said.

Once the nominating commission sends the list of the three finalists’ names to the governor’s office, Daniels has 60 days to appoint the next justice. In the past during appellate court appointment processes, Daniels has interviewed each person individually and the three have also sat down with his counsel for an initial review.

Shepard is retiring as chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission and Judicial Qualifications Commission effective March 5, allowing Justice Brent Dickson to take over as chair. Shepard will continue as the court’s administrative leader and as a justice until he retires March 23. After that, Dickson, who will have the most seniority, will be the acting chief justice.•

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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