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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

ADVERTISEMENT