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State’s chief public defender retiring after 30 years

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Indiana Public Defender Susan K. Carpenter is retiring in May after almost 30 years in that position, the state’s highest court announced today.

The Indiana Supreme Court appointed Carpenter as state public defender in October 1981, serving as defense counsel to indigent prison inmates challenging convictions and sentences. During her tenure, the office has tripled in size and developed what the court describes as a well-respected reputation statewide and nationally.

A graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Carpenter has been practicing since 1976. She began her legal career as a Wayne County public defender and then as a deputy state public defender before being appointed as the chief defender.

In 2000, she received the Indiana Bar Association’s Achievement Award. She currently serves on the court’s Commission on Race and Gender Fairness and the Indiana Public Defender Commission, as well as the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s Board of Trustees.

Carpenter described it as an “honor and privilege” to serve in the state public defender's office and points to the historical significance of the office, noting the state’s establishment of the right to counsel on capital cases since 1854 and the Indiana Supreme Court in 1883 becoming one of the first nationally to establish post-conviction remedies.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said that Carpenter’s ability to be both zealous and elegant has allowed her to do one of the toughest jobs in government and that has made Indiana a place of greater justice.

With Carpenter's retirement effective in about three months, the court has not yet finalized its process to appoint a successor. Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said those details will be announced soon.

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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