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. 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