The senior justice on the Indiana Supreme Court expects to step down sometime in 2017, which would complete a total turnover of the bench that began in 2010.
Justice Robert Rucker has not formally announced his plans and isn’t speaking about them in press interviews, but court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said he “authorized the chief justice to provide information to judges and lawyers that he would not stay on the court until he turns 75,” the age at which he would face mandatory retirement.
Rucker, a Gary native appointed to the court by Democratic Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 1999, will turn 70 in January. Dolan said Rucker informally has been telling lawyers and judges he intends to retire from the court sometime next year. She said Rucker recognizes “that the dialog needs to begin on whether they would consider public service by taking this position on the court.
“It is a big decision for a judge or lawyer” to apply for a position on the court and be vetted by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, she said. The commission interviews candidates for appellate court vacancies and submits a list of finalists from which the governor makes the appointment.
Dolan said Rucker and the court “want people to really start considering the public service opportunity that will come up in the next year, but the specific and firm date is not available.”
Rucker fueled speculation by hinting he might step down from the court in 2012 before ultimately deciding to stand for retention. He was retained with 71.5 percent of the vote.
Rucker is the lone justice on the court appointed by a Democratic governor.•