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Justice applicant pool reflective of Indiana

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The attorney Gov. Mitch Daniels eventually chooses to become Indiana’s next Supreme Court justice will have come from a pool of applicants that was fairly representative of the state’s population. The question remains whether the new justice will change the demographics of the high court. Indiana’s justices are all men: four Caucasian and one African-American.

Fifteen people applied to be next Indiana justice, but only seven remain in the running for the position. The demographics of the original applicant pool and the semi-finalists group don’t match up exactly to the number of minorities and women in Indiana, but the groups came pretty close.

shively Evansville attorney Les Shively, standing, interviewed with the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission Feb. 8 to become an Indiana justice. Shively was one of 15 people who applied to replace Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard on the Supreme Court. (Photo courtesy Indiana Supreme Court)

The breakdown

Eight men and seven women applied for the judicial seat opening when Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard retires March 4. According to census figures from 2010, women make up the majority in Indiana – but not by much. Women outnumber men by less than two percent.

Of the 15 initial applicants, only two – or 13 percent – are minorities. Non-Caucasians make up nearly 16 percent of the Indiana population, according to census data. The percentages didn’t change much with the makeup of the seven semi-finalists: One minority remains in the group – which translates to 14 percent of the applicant pool.

The percentage of women represented in the semi-finalist group decreased to 43 percent.

The analysis becomes murky when trying to compare the applicants’ demographics to the Indiana legal community. Although the courts ask for attorneys’ gender and race during registration, that information is not required. Myra Selby, chair of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Race and Gender Fairness, said the commission has only been asking for that information for about three years. The place to fill in one’s race and gender is on the Indiana bar card.

The first couple of years the information was on the card, it was in small print and on the back, so many attorneys may have missed it, Selby said. The questions have been moved recently to a more prominent position on the card, but she isn’t sure yet if it will result in more people providing that information.

According to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys, there are 17,605 lawyers who are admitted to practice and in good standing in the state. Data from the Roll of Attorneys and the Indiana Supreme Court vary on racial and gender makeup of Indiana’s legal profession, but both show that the number of men who practice in Indiana is around double that of women. According to data from both sources, the majority of people listed Caucasian as their race, followed by African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian-American. A handful of people listed “other” under race.

applicantsEncouraging diverse applicants

The Indiana State Bar Association’s Diversity Committee and the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness are tackling issues involving women and minorities, but neither have programs in place to encourage minorities to apply for appellate judicial positions. Selby said it’s certainly an idea worth exploring in Indiana as she’s seen efforts in other states that have been well met and supported by the bench and bar.

Attorney John O. Feighner, who served on the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission from 2003-2005 and 2009-2011, said his goal when selecting the next appellate judge or justice was to have a diverse group of people that would allow the commission to pick the best three candidates to send to the governor’s office.

“We’ve made a lot of progress to try and seek out many diverse applicants for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court for the commission to consider. The court has made extraordinary efforts through the Internet and documenting the process … to hopefully encourage everyone to know it’s an open, merit-based selection process,” he said.

Feighner also pointed out that the commission has sent a diverse applicant trio to the governor to select from in recent years. At least one woman has been included as a finalist for the Indiana Court of Appeals vacancies in 2007 and 2008, and a minority was a finalist for the 2008 opening. Dubois Superior Judge Elaine Brown was chosen to fill the position in 2008; Marion Superior Judge Cale Bradford was selected in 2007. Both judges are Caucasian.

applicantsWhen it came time to select Supreme Court Justice Theodore Boehm’s replacement in 2010, the governor had three Caucasians – including a woman – to choose from. He picked Boone Circuit Judge Steven David.

Since 1985, the commission has interviewed candidates to fill eight vacancies on the Supreme Court. At least one woman has been named a finalist in six of those selection processes, with Selby being selected in 1994. Both she and current Justice Robert Rucker have been the only minorities on the high court, and Selby has been the only female justice.

Why diversity matters

Sharon Murphy, chair of the Diversity Committee for the Indiana State Bar Association, believes Indiana needs to be more cognizant of the value of diversity and the richness that it provides to everyone when it’s accepted and incorporated.

“If we have a judiciary that represents the population, you’re likely to get more people who see the judiciary – in whatever capacity – who realize they can be a part of the legal community,” she said.

Selby would rather not focus on the fact that Indiana is just one of three states to not have a sitting female justice, and instead look at the goal of having the court reflect the state in which it sits.

“There are many important qualities and qualifications that go into being an appellate court judge,” she said. “I don’t think any one automatically vaults to the top over another, but I do continue to believe that the court is certainly enhanced by having a voice that is different in whatever respects from everyone else, so that every voice contributes to the whole.”•
 

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  1. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

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