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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

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

Justice Rucker

In response to the opening question, Justice Rucker said it was important for the Chief to be a collaborator, consensus-builder, and communicator.

Collaboration is important to crafting unanimous opinions, among other things. The Supreme Court if a board of director, and the Chief sits as the chairman of the board—not the CEO. Chief Justice Dickson has brought issues to the justices as his board—and not taken a dictatorial approach.

As to communication, the Chief is the “public face” of the Court. Justice Rucker said it was important for the Chief to articulate the vision clearly and convincingly to instill confidence in the judiciary.

In response to Mr. Williams’ question about leadership style, Justice Rucker said he would do routine and non-controversial things himself but would consult his colleagues about other decisions. “This is not a one-man show.”

In response to Ms. Northenor’s question about possible changes, Justice Rucker noted the access to justice and civility. Justice Rucker would want his legacy to be helping those with limited English-language proficiency. He would want to enable and empower trial courts to help them.

In response to Mr. Rose’s question about judicial philosophy, Justice Rucker cited Justice O’Connor and said he was a minimalist “deciding the facts of the case”—with an eye toward the next case but not writing expansive opinions. He said this was more of an approach to decisionmaking. He said his philosophy is that everyone should be heard. We should draft our rules in a way that encourages jury trials. He also noted the justices give as careful consideration to pro se litigants as to those with counsel, sometimes asking for amicus briefs in pro se cases.

In response to Mr. Christie’s question about background, Justice Rucker noted he was raised in a working class family and no one could think he was “in an Ivory tower.” He was part of a big family and needed to “eat quick,” which generated the biggest laugh of the day. He had worked in steel mills and went to Vietnam; he has crossed paths with a lot of people from different backgrounds.

In response to Mr. Tinkey’s question, Justice Rucker emphasized interacting with the trial judges. He mentioned the annual meetings with trial judges in the state, listening to their concerns.

In response to a question from Chief Justice about his most gratifying opinion, Justice Rucker noted Anglemyer v. State has been the most cited opinion. He said the case was challenging but important, giving guidance to the trial judges and appellate courts about how to address sentencing issues after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Blakely v. Washington opinion and a legislative response.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 6, 2014 02:46 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Schumm - Commentary