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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ind. Courts - "If Tippecanoe County's old stone courthouse could talk"

Lafayette Journal-Courier columnist Bob Kriebel writes today about the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. It begins:

If Tippecanoe County's old stone courthouse could talk, it would have 121 years of stories to tell, for it opened in the late winter of 1885 after years of controversy.

Here in diary form are some of the more memorable "courthouse stories" since then:

April 1887: That octagonal artesian well monument you see these days with its statue of the Marquis de Lafayette was placed at the northeast (Fourth and Main) corner of the courthouse grounds.

April 15, 1892: Elias Max, the embattled "architect" of the courthouse, died at 74. He also had been a grocer, builder, contractor and landowner.

Nov. 6, 1894: Woman suffrage advocate Helen Gougar, who had won a slander trial held in the temporary courthouse in 1882-83, made history again. The county election board refused to let her vote in an election because she was female. She filed her $10,000 damage suit in Tippecanoe Circuit Court and, in so doing, is widely considered to have been the county's "first female attorney."

An Indiana Appellate Court judge in 1895 ruled against Gougar's suffrage suit. The judge said he found no Indiana law giving women the power to vote. Gougar pressed on, but argued and lost the case in 1897 before the Indiana Supreme Court.

Ah yes. And today, 109 years later, although women can now vote (and represent over 51% of the country's population), there are no women on the Indiana Supreme Court, and over the entire history of the Court, there has been only one woman justice, who served briefly.

What of the Court of Appeals? There are 15 judges plus the Tax Court judge. Out of the 16 total, 4 are women, 25%.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 3, 2006 09:10 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts