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State says goodbye to its first tax judge

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Retiring Indiana Tax Court Judge Thomas G. Fisher received a warm goodbye at a send-off ceremony Dec. 17, as the state recognized the solid and nationally recognized body of caselaw that Indiana’s first appellate tax judge created during his 24 years on the bench.

As of Indiana Lawyer deadline, the governor had not named who will succeed Judge Fisher on the state’s appellate bench, but the three finalists vying for that spot attended the ceremony honoring what the judge has done for Indiana since the Tax Court’s creation in 1986.


fisher-1col Retiring Tax Court Judge Thomas G. Fisher received gifts, including a caricature from his son and daughter that says “Court is Adjourned.” (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“As Indiana’s first and only tax court judge, you’ve blazed a trail in what had been uncharted legal territory,” said the Tax Court’s staff attorney Erika Aker.

Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard said his colleague has done more than any other person on the appellate bench with decisions such as the landmark Town of St. John ruling in 1999 that led to a restructuring of the Indiana property tax system. In a time when President Barack Obama and Congress have recently debated and forged tax policy, Judge Fisher’s impact can be seen through the predictability and certainty in tax law he’s created for Indiana’s economy.

“We’d hoped to get thoughtful and predictable tax law that would benefit us all,” the chief justice said, referring to when the new court was created. “Tom’s splendid service has made that dream and hope a reality. Tom Fisher did more than any other single person to bring predictability and fairness to that (tax) system.”

Showing his sense of humor, Judge Fisher ended the ceremony by revealing what judges wear when issuing their decisions in court. He ducked down behind the bench briefly, then drew laughter and applause as he reappeared wearing a British-style white wig and holding a large arm-length gavel.

He plans to retire and become a senior judge as soon as the governor names his successor – either Bloomington attorney Joby Jerrells, Greenwood attorney Martha Wentworth, or Hendricks Superior Judge Karen Love.•

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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