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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. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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