ILNews

Lucas: Is diversity within the judiciary important?

Kelly Lucas
February 15, 2012
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EidtPerspLucas-sigChange is coming.

Many were surprised when Chief Justice Randall Shepard announced his impending retirement last year. Indiana’s mandatory retirement age for judges is going to force turnover on the Court of Appeals this year as well. Word on the street is other vacancies on the appellate bench may occur. Attorneys interested in vying for Court of Appeals and Supreme Court openings are keenly aware of the opportunities on the horizon.

On page 3, you will read about the process currently underway to select the newest Supreme Court justice. The pool began with 15 interested applicants, and it has now been narrowed to seven. A group that began with seven women and eight men is now three women and four men. The original group included two African-American women, and one of these women remains in contention for the judicial opening. It might be coincidence, but I surmise that the Judicial Nominating Commission is keeping diversity in mind when going about the difficult task of selecting semi-finalists and, eventually, finalists.

In her story, Jennifer Nelson looks at how the gender and racial makeup of the judicial candidate pool stacks up against Indiana’s general population and that of the state’s legal community. Will Indiana, one of the few states in the country that does not have a female presence on the high court, create gender diversity with this selection? Is that important?

Myra Selby, a former Indiana Supreme Court justice and the only woman to have served on Indiana’s Supreme Court, says a goal should be to have the court reflect the state it serves. She reiterates the point many echo that there are many important qualities and qualifications that go into being an appellate court judge, but Selby, who serves as chair of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Race and Gender Fairness, adds that the court is enhanced by having different “voices” contributing to the whole.

As the JNC continues its task of selecting finalists for the Supreme Court, the Indiana Lawyer would like to know what our readers think. Is increasing racial diversity or creating gender diversity within the court a consideration when evaluating candidates? Should an applicant’s race or gender factor into the decision-making process? Is the work of the court impacted by its makeup?

Email your thoughts to klucas@ibj.com.•

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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