2012 Year in Review

January 2, 2013

2012 was another busy year for the legal community. We welcomed new justices and a new chief justice, witnessed the beginnings of the state’s fifth law school, and saw local stories garner national and international attention. Here’s a look back at the top news stories from last year.

Supreme Court sees major changes

A shift in the makeup of the Indiana Supreme Court began in December 2011 when then-Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard announced he would retire in 2012. For many in the legal community, he was the only chief justice of the state they had known. Shepard joined the high court in 1985 and was chief justice for 25 years.

When he retired in March, he was replaced on the court by a former law clerk, Mark Massa. After Massa took the oath in April, he said, “This is a sobering responsibility, and I can’t put into words how much it means to be appointed by my governor to replace my judge. It’s not something any attorney does, looking in the mirror and seeing a potential Supreme Court justice staring back. This is going to take a while to get used to.”

cut-shepard-randall-cut-1col.jpg Randall T. Shepard retired from the Indiana Supreme Court in March 2012 after 27 years on the court. (IL file photo)

Randall T. Shepard retired from the Indiana Supreme Court in March 2012 after 27 years on the court. Massa previously served as a deputy prosecutor, an assistant U.S. attorney, as Gov. Mitch Daniels’ general counsel, and he ran for Marion County prosecutor in 2010.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Indiana had a new chief justice. Brent Dickson was selected by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission to lead the state Supreme Court. Dickson has been a justice since 1986.

When Shepard retired, some called for Daniels to appoint a woman to fill the vacancy and were disappointed when Massa was selected. But on the same day Massa was sworn in, Justice Frank Sullivan announced he was leaving the bench to teach at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in the fall.

“Though my work here has been deeply satisfying and I’m proud of it, probably two years ago, I got to thinking I was reaching an age where if I was going to do one more big thing before retiring, I needed to get about it,” Sullivan said at the time. He had been on the court for nearly 19 years and was known as a champion for the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee’s statewide case management system Odyssey along with his work with minorities.

Sullivan’s retirement opened the door for the state to have its second-ever female Supreme Court justice. In September, Daniels appointed Tippecanoe Superior Judge Loretta Rush to the court. Daniels called Rush’s years in private practice and on the bench stellar and said her background and judicial temperament made her stand out among the justice finalists.

Rush dealt with juvenile matters in court and is active in juvenile justice programs. In November, the Supreme Court announced that Rush would head a proposed Indiana Commission on Children, and will now act as the court’s liaison to the Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee and the Problem Solving Courts Committee of the Judicial Conference.

And although he retired, Shepard told the Indiana Lawyer he planned to keep busy. He’s serving as a senior judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals, as a visiting scholar at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and as the first executive in residence at the Indiana University Public Policy Institute in I.U.’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, among other roles.

David’s retention opposed by some unhappy with ruling

Retention1-15col.jpg During the 2012 election, signs began popping up opposing Justice Steven David’s retention on the Indiana Supreme Court because he authored the controversial opinion Barnes v. State. (IL file photo)

Justice Steven David faced retention for the first time in November 2012 after joining the Supreme Court in October 2010. Judicial retention often flies under the general public’s radar, but because he was the authoring justice on the 3-2 decision in Richard L. Barnes v. State in 2011, which held there was no right to reasonably resist unlawful residential entry by police, some sought to remove him from the bench. The Legislature in 2012 passed P.L. 161-2012, which says such a right does exist.

The Indianapolis Tea Party Corp. produced a radio advertisement critical of David that aired statewide. Some even stuck printed and homemade signs in their yards opposing his retention. In response, David created a website that contained biographical information and links to community involvement and honors. Judges may not typically campaign for retention unless they face active opposition.

David received more than 1.14 million retention votes.


Recent Articles by IL Staff