ILNews

New Tax Court judge 'honored and humbled' by appointment

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A longtime lawyer and tax specialist received an early Christmas gift this week, learning that she’ll be the state’s newest Tax Court judge and the first woman to hold a seat on that bench.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced on Wednesday that he has selected Martha B. Wentworth as the second-ever Indiana Tax Court judge, succeeding Judge Thomas G. Fisher when he retires Jan. 1. The governor chose Wentworth over two other finalists selected by the Judicial Nominating Commission in late October: Bloomington attorney Joby Jerrells and Hendricks Superior Judge Karen Love.

Wentworth, 62, becomes the second person to hold that position, as Judge Fisher was chosen when the state created the appellate tax court in 1986. She’ll hold that position for two years until voters decide whether to retain her. If retained, she will serve a 10-year term.

“I am just truly honored, and this is pretty wondrous,” she said after the governor’s office announced her appointment. Wentworth received a call from the governor on Dec. 20 notifiying her of the appointment.

"This is a pinnacle for someone who loves state taxation, and I'm just honored and humbled to be following in the footsteps of Judge Fisher," she said. "The personal joy I have is incalculable, and really the enormity of this, personally and professionally, is still sinking in. This is really a wonderful new adventure."

Daniels credited her “decades-deep knowledge” of tax law and a strong reputation for fairness and consistency as reasons for choosing Wentworth, and he said she’d fill the role "superbly."

Before beginning her legal career, Wentworth owned her own businesses in the 1970s and 1980s. She worked as a self-employed franchisee owner and owned residential rental property before enrolling in law school in the mid-1980s in what is now Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Graduating cum laude in the top 40 percent of her class and admitted to practice in 1990, Wentworth started her legal career clerking for Judge Fisher from 1990 to 1992 and then went to work for six years as a tax attorney at the Indianapolis firm of Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman. Though she was about to become a partner at the firm, Wentworth took a risk and left in 1998 to begin working at multistate accounting firm Deloitte Tax LLP in Indianapolis, where she has served as a senior tax manager, level 1 firm tax director and level 2 tax director.

Though she has not actively practiced law in her position at Deloitte, Wentworth remained active in organizations such as the Indiana State Bar Association’s Tax Section and taught tax law in various capacities through the years. She’s also taught graduate level classes in state and local taxes at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business since 2000.

During her interviews with the Judicial Nominating Commission, Wentworth said the state faces many intriguing and challenging legal questions on tax law, such as what is considered distortion on taxes, the amount of discretion the Department of Revenue has in allowing separate corporate entities to file separate or joint returns, and how the state agency can discretionarily change federal taxable income.

She said jobs are the most important issue for the state, especially in this economic climate, and tax law creates certainty for businesses that are trying to figure out what they can pay and who they can hire. The court must help shape a dynamic environment to encourage economic growth and job creation, she said.

Wentworth will start her new position Jan. 1, after she spends the holiday overseas with family. One of the biggest things she’ll have to get used to is being referred to as, “Your honor,” she said with a laugh.

“My goal is to maintain the tax court as a forum where devotion to the rule of law, fairness to all litigants, and professional civility are the benchmarks,” she said.

A robing ceremony will be held in early 2011, but no date has been set.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

ADVERTISEMENT