Gov. Mitch Daniels announced this morning his pick for the state’s highest appellate court, choosing Boone Circuit Judge Steven H. David to replace retiring Justice Theodore R. Boehm once he steps down Sept. 30. The Republican governor chose the longtime trial judge over Marion Superior Judge Robyn Moberly and Bingham McHale attorney Karl Mulvaney, who were the finalists forwarded on Aug. 5 from the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission.
While the governor’s choice shifts the court’s balance as far as prior judicial experience versus private practice background, this means the Supreme Court will remain an all-male institution. Only the Indiana and Idaho high courts do not currently have a woman justice.
The governor interviewed the three finalists during the first week of September and said he made his decision Tuesday. In making his selection, the governor said Judge David stood out for his distinguished 15 years on the trial bench, his past experience as corporate counsel, and his longtime military legal career.
“Lastly, I heard from Steve David the clearest expression of commitment to proper restraint in jurisprudence, and deep respect for the boundaries of judicial decision-making,” Daniels said at a morning news conference. “He will be a judge who interprets, rather than invents our laws.”
Judge David was one of the initial 34 applicants for the spot, 19 of which were women. Four of the nine semi-finalists brought back for second interviews were women.
The governor said he would have “liked nothing more” than to name a woman to the court, but that his decision was based on the merits. He might have used gender diversity as a “tie-breaker,” but this wasn’t a tie, he said.
“My task was to find the best person on the merits, and I’m sure I did,” Daniels said. “Now the state is going to benefit from that for years to come.”
A 1982 graduate of Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, Judge David began on the Boone Circuit bench in 1995. He was in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps until the mid-1980s, when he began practicing in Columbus at law firm Cline King King & David. After that, he served as corporate counsel for Mayflower Transit in Carmel. Since taking the trial bench, he’s presided over all types of civil, criminal, and juvenile matters and also served as special judge by Supreme Court appointment and hearing officer or special master in attorney and judicial misconduct cases. Click here to view Judge David's application.
He’s remained in the Army Reserves and worked on reforming the treatment of detainees in Iraq in 2003, as well as serving as chief defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainees at one time. He retired from his military service on Sept. 1.
Standing with his wife Catheryne Pully – who is the Indiana State Bar Association’s local and specialty bar liaison - in the governor’s office this morning, Judge David said this is a continuation of a lifetime priority of public service. He hopes to add to the already-strong sense of professionalism and civility displayed by the court.
“This is an opportunity to serve in a different capacity,” he said. “Everything in my life is about public service and this is not something that I planned on doing, but something that just came along. The lesson learned is it’s OK to dream. Hard work can pay off.”
With this appointment, the governor will need to fill the Boone Circuit vacancy and name someone for the remainder of that term expiring in 2012. No timeline has yet been outlined for that process.