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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. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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