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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ind. Courts - Prof. Schumm's report of Justice Rush's interview

Justice Rush

When Justice Rush entered the room, everyone in the room stood up. (This was not the custom when merely interviewing justice candidates.)

All justices were given advance notice of the first question. What are the most important factors to be considered in the selection of the Chief Justice and why?

She focused on three.

First, be a role model and “pillar of collegiality” and consensus-building for the judiciary. Lawyers and judges look to the Chief as the standard to which they aspire.

Consensus-building was a priority of Chief Dickson—within the Court and with other branches of government. Justices are not a “Lone Rangers” in the law; they must work together.

She has traveled to many conferences and seen states where the justices do not get along well.

Second, strong administrative and managerial skills. She saw the importance of this when elected to the Tippecanoe County bench.

The Chief must develop and maintain a strong administrative team and be willing to delegate responsibilities.

The Chief must also be comfortable with technology, which will offer solutions to many of the state’s problems.

Third, the Chief should be a visionary—“the face of the Court.” We need a Chief who will work will collaboratively with other branches of government to find solutions.

Mr. Williams asked a description of her leadership style. (A question he said he plans to ask all justices.) She explained from Tippecanoe County she learned “you can’t do it all alone” and emphasized the importance of a strong managerial team. She noted that many judges had stepped up for service on Supreme Court Committees. She noted that Chief Justice Dickson has shared administrative responsibilities.

Mr. Rose asked what she thought would be the most challenging and most gratifying part of the job. She noted that the “patchwork” system of funding could be a challenge, noting the judiciary is less than 1% of the state budget and there is not much to cut. The most gratifying part of the job would be working with the bench and bar.

Ms. Northenor asked what changes Justice Rush might make as Chief Justice. “Just because you’ve always done it a certain way” doesn’t mean it should continue. She noted that the civil docket has taken a backseat to some other types of cases. Performance measures and time standards could be considered. She cited a 2012 Chamber of Commerce study noting the importance of timely case resolution for businesses. She also noted a number of initiatives need to continue, including pro bono counsel and addressing litigants with limited English proficiency.

Mr. Christie asked about how Justice Rush’s background prepared her to be Chief Justice. She noted (1) her work as a partner of a law firm, managing other lawyers and trying cases and (2) her experience on the trial bench, which included looking at courts around the state for three months before taking the bench and, after joining the bench, talking regularly with the County Council.

Mr. Tinkey asked how the Chief Justice best raises awareness and the reputation of the judiciary. Justice Rush said public speaking was important, noting she had been to all the law school and in counties around the state. She also mentioned that she went to the Gary Railcats game last week and let her twelve-year-old son throw out the first pitch.

Mr. Ulmer asked how Justice Rush will juggle the workplace with home life. She said home-work balance is important. She said it’s important to become a good time manager. She has three adult children and has “done this for 32 years.” She said she uses every minute in her car.

Mr. Rose asked about Justice Rush’s judicial philosophy and whether it is similar to a current member of the U.S. Supreme Court. She said it is important to give meaning to the language of statutes. She likes Justice Scalia’s adherence to language of statutes but noted she doesn’t always like the tone of his opinions.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 6, 2014 01:21 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Schumm - Commentary