Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson formally took the oath of office Aug. 6 before more than 300 people in the atrium of the Indiana Statehouse.
Gov. Mitch Daniels administered the oath as Dickson’s wife of 49 years, Jan Aikman Dickson, held the family Bible upon which the new chief in 1986 took the oath when he was appointed as a justice by Gov. Robert Orr. Dickson’s three adult sons and many grandchildren and family members attended.
“He did not seek this position, it was thrust upon him,” Daniels said of Dickson, who was officially appointed chief justice by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission in June. Daniels said he called Dickson and urged him to serve, adding that during a period of significant change on the court, “there was only one choice.”
Daniels said Dickson had served as a key member of a judicial “dream team” respected nationally for civility and intellectual jurisprudence. Under former Chief Justice Randall Shepard, Dickson and Justices Theodore Boehm, Robert Rucker and Frank Sullivan Jr. served together longer than any Supreme Court in the state’s history.
Dickson and Rucker are the lone remaining justices from that court. Justice Steven David replaced Boehm; Justice Mark Massa replaced Shepard; and Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation, Tippecanoe Superior Judge Loretta Rush, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP partner Geoffrey Slaughter are the finalists in the running to replace Sullivan, who retired from the court Aug. 1.
“Now, we hope we’re rebuilding another dream team for the future,” Daniels said.
Dickson noted the “approaching conclusion” of a period of change for the court, noting the court should be back to five members by October.
“Your new Indiana Supreme Court intends to continue in the traditions of the recent past,” he said, as a respected body that serves as a model for courts around the country and continues to be nonpolitical. “We are determined to wage civility at every opportunity.”
Tippecanoe County Bar Association President Patricia Truitt, a longtime friend and colleague of the Dicksons, noted that she believed Dickson to be the first chief justice who attended Purdue University as an undergraduate student – the same institution Daniels will lead when he leaves office.
Truitt was among several friends and colleagues who offered remarks during Dickson’s ceremony, over which Rucker presided. Also offering remarks were Boehm, Indiana Judges Association President Judge Robyn Moberly, and Rep. Ralph Foley, R-Martinsville.•