ILNews

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. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. 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?

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