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Friday, November 16, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Surbeck 1st Hoosier to win Rehnquist award"

Updating this ILB entry from Aug. 14th, Brian Francisco reports today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in a story that begins:

WASHINGTON – Allen County Superior Court Judge John Surbeck received a national award for judicial excellence Thursday for achievements he said were born of frustration.

In a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court attended by more than 250 people, Surbeck was presented the William H. Rehnquist Award by the National Center for State Courts.

The award was given to Surbeck by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The honor is named for Roberts’ predecessor, who died in 2005.

Surbeck is the 17th recipient of the Rehnquist award and the first from Indiana.

He was saluted for starting the Allen County Re-Entry Court in 2001 and promoting the program since then. The court allows for the early release of prison inmates in exchange for closer court supervision – including random drug tests and ankle bracelets that monitor an offender’s whereabouts – than is typical in traditional parole and probation programs.

An Allen County judge since 1988, Surbeck recalled having grown “very frustrated” by the number of repeat offenders appearing in his court, and he decided his rulings and sentences in criminal cases “didn’t seem to make any difference.”

“Because as a public defender I had represented the first generation of these folks,” he said. As a judge, “I sentenced a second generation. And then 10 or 12 years in, I was sentencing the third generation for the same crimes. It was frustrating, and I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t accomplishing what I thought I should.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 16, 2012 09:12 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts