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Friday, November 02, 2012

Ind. courts - Indianapolis Star endorses Justice David

Today's Indianapolis Star editorial section contains an editorial endorsing the retention of Supreme Court Justice Steven David, along with two letters that are not so enthusiastic. From the editorial:

Retention votes for Indiana appellate jurists have been ho-hum affairs over the four decades of their existence, with rare controversy and always a majority of "yes" votes.

This Tuesday may be an exception, at least in terms of the heat level.

Some residents are pushing for the ouster of Supreme Court Justice Steven David on the basis of a single act: his authorship of a 2011 ruling in which the court said, by a 3-2 vote, that there is no right to forcibly resist police who illegally enter one's home.

Seen by many as an attempt to subvert the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the decision sparked demonstrations, death threats against justices, a plea for reconsideration from the state attorney general and passage of a sweeping new law that some fear has put police in danger.

The anti-retention campaign, whose extent is difficult to measure, continues that fallout.

Is it justified? By no means.

First, the court clarified the ruling to the satisfaction of Attorney General Greg Zoeller, emphasizing it meant not to abridge rights but rather to define reasonable ways of redressing their violation.

Second, it's one case. As leaders in the Indiana State Bar Association point out, David has taken part in scores of cases during his two years as a justice and has been highly active in community outreach. A survey of attorneys by the association found more than 80 percent supporting his retention, a similar figure to those enjoyed by the others on the ballot, Justice Robert Rucker and four Court of Appeals judges.

In a public letter praising David as a "veritable workhorse" and a "fierce defender of the rule of law," outgoing Bar Association President C. Erik Chickedantz wrote: "Punishing a judge over a single decision . . . as opposed to looking at the whole picture of a judge's service lowers the status of the judicial process and can send a chilling message to other justices and judges. Hoosiers deserve better."

He's right. Hoosiers deserve the opportunity to hold judges accountable at the polls, but they have the obligation to know the history behind the names and the complexities of provocative decisions. In this instance, a retention vote is interesting for the wrong reasons. David merits a "yes" -- as does Justice Rucker.

The letters:
Vote to retain Rucker, but not David (link)

In addition to selecting politicos, the upcoming 2012 election allows Hoosiers to decide on the retention or dismissal of two of Indiana’s Supreme Court justices. This is our chance to vote our displeasure over the controversial Indiana Supreme Court ruling in Barnes v. State of Indiana.

The first decision is to retain or dismiss Justice Steven David. David wrote the majority opinion in the case, which said Hoosiers could not physically resist warrantless searches instigated by law enforcement. Citizens were instructed not to resist the police intrusion but to seek legal recourse after the fact. This decision rewrites the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as common law dating back to the Magna Carta in 1215. I suggest we dismiss David and his way of thinking.

The second decision is to retain or dismiss Justice Robert Rucker. Rucker wrote the minority opinion that opposed unwarranted searches based on our guarantees of the Fourth Amendment and common law. I suggest we retain Justice Robert Rucker because he understands the significance of search warrants and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

T. Kim Greeman

Few lawyers responded, so results are dubious (link)

Joel Schumm’s Oct. 30 My View, “Don’t base judicial vote on a single case,” began by saying it was remarkable that 80 percent of the lawyers responding to the State Bar survey supported retention. In closing, he called this the vast majority of State Bar members.

Only 15 percent of the members responded to the survey after four attempts, representing less than 8 percent of the active lawyers in the state. About 6 percent (1,100) voted yes. One or two cheerleaders broadcasting emails might have generated that, or much of it, for a given judge.

Gordon Dempsey
Attorney at law, Indianapolis

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 2, 2012 10:08 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts