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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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