Monday, September 20, 2010
Ind. Courts - Coverage of Daniels' Supreme Court appointment
- "New justice called great choice" from Dan Carden of the NWI Times, who wrote:
A Lake County judge who sought a seat on Indiana's Supreme Court says Gov. Mitch Daniels made a "great" pick Friday by selecting Judge Steven David to be Indiana's 106th Supreme Court justice.
"He's just the perfect package really. I can't be happier for him and for all of us in Indiana," Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura said. "I think he'll just be great." * * *
Bonaventura said she got to know David working with him on children's justice issues. David also has worked to expand access to mental health treatment for children and has served as a director of Boys and Girls Clubs in Zionsville and Lebanon.
When she wasn't selected as a semifinalist for the court seat, Bonaventura said she wrote letters to the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission and the governor recommending David.
"After he applied, I said to my husband, 'If I can't get it, I want Steve to get it,'" Bonaventura said. "I think he will bring something to the Supreme Court that I don't think they had before – the experience with children and families."
David will replace retiring Justice Theodore Boehm.
When Boehm announced in May he'd be leaving the court this month after more than 14 years on the bench, he said he hoped the governor would replace him with a female justice. Indiana and Idaho are the only states without a female justice on their highest court.
- An editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette dated Sept. 18, 2010 is headed "A supreme insult." It begins:
This might be the year of the woman in the Republican Party, but Indiana women eager to advance in public service certainly aren’t making much progress. The latest slight comes from Gov. Mitch Daniels, who passed over an eminently qualified female judge to appoint Judge Stephen David to the all-male Indiana Supreme Court.
Indiana and Idaho remain the only states in the nation without a woman on their top court. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have female justices leading their courts of last resort, according to the American Bar Association Journal. Tennessee, Michigan and Wisconsin have a majority of female jurists on their highest court.
While David, a Boone County Circuit Court judge, is well qualified for the post, his appointment is a disservice to Hoosiers – women in particular.
- Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star had a lengthy story Sept. 18th headed "Governor appoints 'best person' to top court." Some quotes:
Despite being pressured to create gender diversity on the state's highest court, Gov. Mitch Daniels on Friday named Judge Steven David to the Indiana Supreme Court, citing David's diversity of legal experience.
David, a Boone Circuit Court judge, is a former U.S. Army colonel whose legal career has found him advocating for such disparate interests as the Mayflower moving company and Guantanamo Bay detainees.
David's selection leaves Indiana and Idaho as the only two states in the nation without women on their high courts.
On Friday, as Daniels announced his pick, he said he would have "liked nothing more" than to name a woman to Indiana's Supreme Court. Only one woman has ever served on that top bench: Myra Selby, a justice from 1995 to 1999. * * *
"I might have used (gender diversity) as a tie-breaker," Daniels said. "But this was not a tie. My task was to find the best person on the merits. I'm sure I did." * * *
Sealing his decision that David was the right pick, the governor said, was the judge's "deep respect for the boundaries of judicial decision-making."
"He will be a judge who interprets rather than invents our laws," Daniels said. * * *
Kevin Betz, an Indianapolis attorney and longtime observer of Indiana's court system, used the word "spectacular" at least three times to describe the pick of David. * * *
And, he said, "I've got to hand it to Governor Daniels that he stood up to that pressure (to pick a woman), which was no small amount of pressure. . . . Yes, we should consider gender, but it shouldn't be the overwhelming consideration. It should be a substantial consideration, but what we should be doing is choosing the very best leader and Supreme Court justice we can choose."
Others, though, expressed disappointment.
Marcia J. Oddi, an Indianapolis attorney, wrote on her Indiana Law Blog that "several of the applicants were, in my opinion and that of a number of others, at least as qualified, if not more so, than the three names sent to the Governor. And they were women."
Several of the women passed over by the commission, Oddi said, "should have been, in my opinion, slam dunks."
- From a Star editorial of the same date:
Judging by their resumes, the state could not lose no matter which of the three finalists won the Indiana Supreme Court vacancy contest.
That Gov. Mitch Daniels passed over the only woman candidate is a disappointment to many who wonder why Indiana stands as one of only two states without a sitting female supreme court justice. The discussion, and the opportunity, will come up again. Now, attention must turn to the merits of the man who got the job. * * *
In 2006, when a General Assembly bill was pending that would shift child welfare funding responsibility from counties to the state, David protested what he and others deemed an abridgement of local judges' discretion.
Testifying as president of the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, David criticized the Daniels administration's Department of Child Services for seeking to "centralize and consolidate" power. * * *
Nonpartisanship cannot be assured in any judicial appointment process, but Indiana's system certainly minimizes the posturing and acrimony by having applicants winnowed by an ad hoc commission chaired by the chief justice and with only three of its seven members appointed by the governor.
Disappointment, again, arose because women comprised the majority of the 35 applicants but not the majority of those who made the two cuts. That will be remembered when the next vacancy occurs, and well it should. This time around, nevertheless, it appears that jurisprudence has been served.