Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker will return to his law school alma mater Thursday to give the first speech in a new lecture series named in his honor.
The Gary native will present the Justice Robert D. Rucker Inaugural Lecture at 4 p.m. (Central Time) in Wesemann Hall of Valparaiso University Law School. His remarks, “Behind the Scenes – an In-depth Journey Through the Inner Workings of the Indiana Supreme Court,” is the first in what is anticipated to become a continuing series of talks by distinguished guest speakers.
Details of the lecture series are still being discussed, according to Bernard Trujillo, professor at the law school. The faculty is considering such questions are how often the series will host a guest speaker and if the series will focus on a specific topic.
“It’s still very much in the embryonic stage,” Trujillo said. “We wanted to name it after Justice Rucker who is one of our most distinguished alumni.”
The faculty approached Rucker about the lecture series and was delighted he agreed to lend his name to the event, Trujillo said.
Rucker graduated from Valparaiso Law School in 1976. He served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Lake County, city attorney for the city of Gary and worked in private practice before being appointed to the bench.
In 1991, he was tapped by Gov. Evan Bayh to serve on the Indiana Court of Appeals. Eight years later in 1999, Rucker was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Frank O’Bannon. He has authored more than 225 majority opinions and 97 concurring or dissenting opinions during his time on the Supreme Court.
Last year, Rucker was elected to the American Law Institute, a national organization that produces scholarly insights into the law. In an interview after he was elected, Rucker reminisced about growing up in Gary and originally studying to be a physician. However, after meeting an attorney, he immediately changed his career plans to the law.
Students in the law school see Rucker’s class photo hanging in the building. Having the justice come back to the law school and lecture, Trujillo said, will help motivate and focus the students.