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Senior Judge Jonathan Robertson dies

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has lost a former chief judge who had authored more majority opinions than any of his colleagues during his nearly three decades on the appellate bench.

Judge Jonathan J. Robertson, 76, died about 5:20 p.m. Monday at his home in southern Indiana. He had been diagnosed about four months ago with lung cancer, according to his son, Joe Robertson. The legal community is remembering a man who served his country in the military and public service, and who always kept a sense of humor and had the ability to make everyone smile.

"He was a true patriot who loved his state, country, family, and the law," said Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge John G. Baker, a friend who has known the family for more than 30 years. "He was really a quiet cheerleader for all that's good in our business."

Born in Jackson County, Judge Robertson earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1961 and practiced privately in Seymour until becoming a prosecuting attorney for Jackson County. He served as counsel to the Indiana House of Representatives for a year in 1963, and in 1965 became Jackson Circuit judge until his election to the appellate bench in 1970.

Judge Robertson was part of the last group of appellate jurists to be elected before a constitutional change converted Indiana to a merit selection system in 1971. Since then, he was retained by retention vote three times.

During his time on the Indiana Court of Appeals, Judge Robertson served as chief judge from 1975 to 1978, and was widely seen as one of the most prolific members of the court with his record-setting authoring of more than 3,000 majority opinions.

Judge Robertson partially retired from the appellate court in 1998, but continued serving as senior judge at that level and in southern Indiana's trial courts. His son said the judge had stopped serving at the trial level recently because of his illness, but that he'd continued working up to the end for the appellate court.

Prior to law school, Judge Robertson served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956. He was honorably discharged as a corporal.

His family, friends, and colleagues say they will remember his sense of humor and ability to make anyone smile.

"That sense of humor never left him," the judge's son said. "He always had a joke, always had something nice to say about someone. That will be a hallmark of his life."

Details are being finalized today for funeral services, but his son said a calling will take place Friday afternoon and evening at the Spurgeon Funeral Home in Brownstown. The funeral is expected to take place Saturday.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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