Gov. Mike Pence Monday named Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP partner Geoffrey Slaughter to the Indiana Supreme Court. The veteran litigator will replace Justice Brent Dickson who retired from the court April 29.
“This is a good day for the law in Indiana,” Pence said during a news conference in his office Monday where Slaughter was joined by his wife, attorney Julie Ann Slaughter, and the other justices. “This was a difficult decision,” he said referring to the finalists from which he selected his first appointee to the court. St. Joseph Superior Judge Steven L. Hostetler and Boone Superior Judge Matthew C. Kincaid also were on the short list to become Indiana’s 109th justice.
“Judge Kincaid and Judge Hostetler are extraordinary jurists who serve their communities with great distinction,” Pence said. “But the opportunity to appoint someone of Geoff Slaughter’s intellect and demeanor and experience ... it’s a great privilege to me, it’s very humbling.”
Slaughter, 53, was admitted to practice in 1989 and focuses his practice on administrative, antitrust, appellate and constitutional litigation. He has argued frequently before the court, and he thanked Pence for the trust he placed in him and said he was humbled by the process, in which he was selected from a field of 29 lawyers and judges interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission.
He said the court has “rightly been recognized as a smart, hard-working and collegial court, and I pledge to do all I can to ensure that my service on the court only reinforces those qualities.”
Slaughter also used part of his brief address Monday to pay tribute to Dickson, a fellow former litigator and Lake County native whose 30 years on the court represent the second-longest tenure of any justice in state history.
He called Dickson “an exemplary public servant who leaves huge shoes to fill. … I’m not replacing Justice Dickson – nobody can do that – I’m merely succeeding him and I’ll do my best to try to live up to the values of professionalism and civility for which he’s so well-known.”
Slaughter was a finalist for the opening on the Supreme Court in 2012 after Justice Frank Sullivan retired. That opening was filled by Chief Justice Loretta Rush. He told reporters after the news conference that he almost didn’t apply when the current vacancy was announced, but did so only after he was encouraged colleagues.
Slaughter, who also is president of the Indiana Bar Foundation, received the praise of that organization Monday.
“We are gratified that our colleague Geoffrey G. Slaughter has been selected by Governor Mike Pence to fill the vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Brent E. Dickson. We know Geoff’s intellect, civility and respect for the rule of law well having worked with him for the past several years as members of the executive committee of the Indiana Bar Foundation,” the group said in a statement.
“The Foundation has benefited from Geoff’s generous time and professional expertise during this, the Foundation’s 65th anniversary year. Geoff’s leadership as President of the Foundation this year has continued to advance the mission of the organization and has ensured that the Foundation is equipped to continue serving the public and the Indiana bench and bar with quality programs in civil legal aid and civic education.”
Read more about the appointment in the May 18, 2016, issue of Indiana Lawyer.