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Supreme Court review focuses on Shepard's legacy

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The Randall Shepard era of Indiana’s Supreme Court is over, but in his last full year on the court, the former chief justice continued a legacy of consensus building and restoring primacy to the state Constitution.

Those are among the conclusions of an annual Supreme Court review for 2011.

“One of the things that always intrigued me is the degree of consensus Chief Justice Shepard often was able to garner,” said Jason Stephenson, a Barnes &Thornburg partner. With fellow partner Mark Crandley and associate Jeff Peabody, Stephenson is a co-author of “Examination of the Indiana Supreme Court Docket, Dispositions and Voting in 2011.”

The draft report cites the court’s consensus as a hallmark. “The justices of the Shepard Court departed from the majority when they were compelled to do so, but division on the court under Shepard’s leadership was the exception, not the norm.”

Stephenson said Shepard seemed to be leaving his mark on the court in his final couple of years, taking it upon himself to author more opinions than any other justice during that time.

The Indiana Constitution was the nondisciplinary issue most frequently addressed by justices in 2011, according to the report, following a trend occurring in the prior five years. The Shepard court might have prompted a cultural change in the Indiana bar so that lawyers and judges now properly view constitutional law in terms of a dual state and federal system, the draft report says.

“I almost think that will be the most significant mark left by the Chief Justice Shepard era on the court,” Stephenson said.

The review also noted a shift in the type of cases heard during Shepard’s time leading the court. A court once “bogged down in numerous (and often routine) criminal appeals” handled a caseload in 2011 in which only 45 percent of appeals were criminal.•

Click here to download the complete Supreme Court Focus article, which includes a breakdown of voting numbers by the justices.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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