Indiana Northern District judge dies

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2009
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U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp in the Northern District of Indiana died at his home Friday, ending more than 30 years on the federal bench. He was 77.

A notice of his death was posted on the Northern District of Indiana's Web site Friday.

Appointed to the federal bench Oct. 11, 1973, by President Richard Nixon, Judge Sharp took the bench that following month and served until taking senior status in November 2007. He was the fourth longest-serving active District judge in the country.

During his time on the bench, Judge Sharp served as chief judge of that court from 1981 to 1996, and he presided over jury trials in four different districts and sat periodically with Circuit Courts of Appeals in Chicago, Washington D.C., and New Orleans.

He had been involved in many significant civil and criminal cases, including the desegregation of the Fort Wayne elementary schools, a public display of the Ten Commandments in Elkhart, and the quadruple murder case of Joseph Corcoran in which he overturned the death sentence.

Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Brown County, Indiana, Judge Sharp earned his law degree in 1957 from Indiana University School of Law; he was also awarded an honorary doctor of civil laws later in his career from Indiana State University. Judge Sharp practiced law in Williamsport from 1957 to 1968 before serving on the Indiana Appellate Court - the precursor to the Indiana Court of Appeals - from 1969 until his federal appointment in 1973

Aside from the law, he also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1957 to 1984, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Judge Sharp is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

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