Weissmann celebrates life’s ‘authors’ at robing ceremony

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Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush, right, administers the judicial oath to Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Leanna Weissmann at Weissmann’s Aug. 26 robing ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Larry Seidman, LJ Seidman Photography Ltd.)

Almost a year after being sworn into the judiciary, a robing ceremony was held for Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Leanna Weissmann on Aug. 26.

Weissmann was joined by colleagues, family and friends at the Statehouse in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom for her investiture. Chief Justice Loretta Rush administered the oath, and Weissmann’s husband, Bob, and children, Drew, Chris and Lauren, assisted in the robing.

Weissmann was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to the seat vacated by now-Senior Judge John Baker. Holcomb selected Weissmann from a group of three finalists, which also included Vigo Superior Judge Lakshmi Reddy and New Albany attorney Lisa Reger.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Cale Bradford administered a private oath on Sept. 14, 2020, to allow Weissmann to officially begin her duties prior to this year’s ceremony.

Before joining the Court of Appeals, Weissmann maintained a solo law practice in Lawrenceburg for more than 20 years representing criminal defendants and civil litigants in appellate litigation. She briefed more than 400 appeals and participated in more than 20 oral arguments before the Indiana Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court.

In 2018, she participated in a successful petition to the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Zanders v. Indiana, 138 S.Ct. 2702 (2018), a case involving a Fourth Amendment issue.

Weissmann also ran a pro bono program through her appellate practice website that allowed Hoosiers to apply for free legal representation.

“Her skills as an appellate lawyer are unmatched,” Judge James Humphrey of Dearborn and Ohio counties said, adding that everyone in southeastern Indiana always wanted Weissmann on their team first.

During his remarks at the ceremony, Holcomb said it’s no surprise that Weissmann is so respected among her peers, and that she will make Indiana proud for years to come.

“Judge Weissmann is the perfect example of the talent and ethos in our judiciary,” Holcomb said, adding that she’s the first appellate judge from southeastern Indiana in almost two decades.

Also speaking on behalf of Weissmann was John Maley, a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, who has known her for 30 years.

Maley spoke of how Weissmann would help he and his wife from time to time by acting as a part-time caregiver to their disabled child, and that her innate compassion later showed in her work by the number of pro bono cases she would work on through her practice.

Weissmann said the celebration was a day of “thanks and reflection,” crediting several men and women who have played major roles in her career.

She said she wished she could go back and talk to her 9-year-old self at the public library in Aurora, who was probably reading “Nancy Drew,” and explain to her that every person’s success in life doesn’t have one author.

“Everyone’s life involves other people. Some write sentences, or paragraphs, or chapters,” Weissmann said. “I wish I had known the story of success isn’t one writer. Everyone in this room wrote a sentence, paragraph or chapter in my life.”

Weissmann said that Baker planted the seed of becoming a judge almost a decade ago when he called her asking if she had ever considered applying for a judicial position.

She also noted that Aug. 26 was Women’s Equality Day, which celebrates the 19th Amendment.

Weissmann, who is the 10th woman to serve on the Court of Appeals, said individuals like retired COA Judge V. Sue Shields have made a profound impact in advancing women’s representation in law. She also mentioned that when she was born, only 6% of attorneys in the state were female and women weren’t yet represented in the judiciary.

Weissmann also talked about each of her immediate family members in attendance, whom she credited for much of her success.

Because Weissmann is an avid runner, Bradford ended the ceremony with a series of quotes on the sport.

One of those pieces of pseudo-advice came from a quote by Oprah Winfrey, who said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”•

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