A former deputy clerk for Indiana’s appellate courts died July 5 in Wisconsin from complications following a heart transplant.
David Ray Schanker, 55, served as deputy clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court for seven years until he joined the Wisconsin court system in 2007. Schanker earned his law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington and served as judicial clerk for two years to then-Chief Judge John T. Sharpnack of the Court of Appeals in the 1990s. He practiced at Kightlinger & Grey before working for the appellate court.
Judge Sharpnack, now a senior judge, said that Schanker was the first person he ever hired during their job interview. Before his legal career, Schanker – a New Jersey native – worked in theatre and film, earning an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He authored several short stories, legal-themed novels, and plays. That experience with language also helped encourage Judge Sharpnack to hire him.
“He was clearly a bright person,” the judge said. “He was extremely helpful, very hard working, very bright, empathetic, and concerned about the people in the cases we were working on.”
While serving as Judge Sharpnack’s clerk, Schanker wrote a mystery about a clerk on the court of appeals. The judge said he was nervous the project, but that it turned out fine.
“He assured me I wasn’t like the character of the judge on the court of appeals,” he said.
Schanker brought computer literacy skills to the court, as well as persuaded Judge Sharpnack to introduce casual Fridays and donuts and conversations on that day. That tradition lasted long after Schanker left, he said.
“He was one of my very best clerks and a person I have a high admiration for,” he said.
Schanker had a heart transplant in March and passed away after developing an infection in his gallbladder at the end of June.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Buchko, daughters Inez Chesire Buchko Schanker and Julia Xhikuang Buchko Schanker; sister Beth Hume, and parents Robert and Claire Schanker.•