« Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - Justice David likely next Chief Justice | Main | Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - "Indiana's top judge says he'll retire in March" »

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - More info

From Kathryn Dolan, Court information officer, a note this morning, :

I have been asked about the selection process for the next Justice and Chief Justice and have provided this answer to the press:

The Judicial Nominating Commission will conduct interviews with candidates for the next Supreme Court Justice in February 2012. At that time, Chief Justice Shepard will lead the Commission. Chief Justice Shepard, with the other six members of the Judicial Nominating Commission, will provide three names to the Governor. The Governor will select the next Supreme Court Justice.

When Chief Justice Shepard retires in March 2012, the most senior justice, Justice Brent Dickson will become Acting Chief Justice. In that position he will be the chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The Commission will then select the state's next Chief Justice from among the Court, including the newest appointed member [ILB emphasis].

This is clearer, but there is still no precise timetable. The Governor has 60 days after receiving the nominees from the Commission to make his selection of the next justice. So this could be late April.

In the meantime, Justice Dickson will be Acting Chief Justice from the time CJ Shepard's 5-year term officially ends sometime in March (I've asked for the exact date, I don't know that it corresponds with his retirement date from the Court) to the time the Judicial Nominating Commission selects a new Chief Justice from the eligible applicants. Whether or not this pool includes the justice to be named by Gov. Daniels in the spring will depend on how long the Commission, then headed by acting-CJ Dickson, decides to extend the process (although the communication above indicates the pool of eligibles will include the newest justice).

Jon Murray and Mary Beth Schneider have a story today in the Indianapolis Star headed "Shepard will have role in picking new justice: Commission expects to have its list of finalists to the governor in February." Some quotes:

Chief Justice Randall Shepard's retirement opens up the second vacancy in as many years on the Indiana Supreme Court.

But this opening is anything but routine. Gov. Mitch Daniels will appoint a new justice to take Shepard's place, based on three finalists submitted by a nominating commission after an extensive interview process.

The same commission then will choose the first new chief justice in 25 years from among the court's justices -- without a direct say from Daniels, who appoints just three of the seven commission members.

Those two decisions, set to play out in coming months, could have long-lasting effects on Indiana law and the justice system.

Shepard, set to retire in March, will have a voice in selecting his successor on the court since he's chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission.

But he expects the selection of the next chief justice to occur after he steps down.

The commission will meet next week to prepare for the change -- the first time since its creation in the 1970s that members will face replacing both a justice and a chief justice.

After Shepard's latest five-year term as chief justice ends March 4, Justice Brent E. Dickson, the next longest-serving justice, will become acting chief justice. He will serve on the nominating commission as it interviews all of the justices and makes its choice for the new judicial leader.

Shepard said he didn't know whether that would happen before Daniels' justice pick joins the court.

"They are legally authorized to do it either way," Shepard said.

Still unclear: which of Shepard's colleagues wants to take his place.

From a story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reported by Niki Kelly:
Indiana voters retained Shepard three times on statewide ballots, including when he received 61.7 percent of the vote after a former colleague leveled charges of drug and alcohol abuse against Shepard in 1988.

The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission will search for a successor. The commission, led by Shepard, will interview candidates in February and send the names of three candidates to Daniels by the end of that month.

The governor then has 60 days to select the state’s next justice.

Daniels has already made one appointment to the high court. He tapped Justice Steven David in September 2010.

During that process, 34 attorneys from around the state applied – 19 women and 15 men. One woman made the top three.

The two finalists not chosen then were Indianapolis appellate lawyer and former Supreme Court administrator Karl Mulvaney and Marion Superior Court Judge Robyn Moberly. There was pressure then to appoint a woman because Indiana is one of two states that does not have a woman on its top court.

“I think the court is a stronger institution if it is well representative and well balanced. This is true in terms of race, gender and prior experience,” Shepard said. “In the end, it depends on who steps forward. It’s the name of the game.”

Shepard will participate in picking the three finalists, but Justice Brent Dickson will take his place on the commission when a new chief justice is chosen by that group in March.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 8, 2011 11:09 AM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Ct