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Friday, March 10, 2017

Ind. Courts - Justice Rucker holds court yesterday in hometown Gary

From the Gary Post-Tribune, a report by Javonte Anderson. Some quotes from the long story:

Nearly 50 years after crossing the stage as a high school graduate, Robert Rucker returned to Roosevelt High School, but this time as a member of the Indiana Supreme Court. Instead of wearing a cap and gown and carrying a diploma, he wore his judicial robe and carried a gavel.

Sitting on the stage in the Gary high school's auditorium with his colleagues, looking out in the audience replete with judges and high school students from across Northwest Indiana, Rucker had to get something off of his chest. "Go Panthers!" Rucker said paying tribute to his alma mater's mascot.

For Rucker, 70, the event at Roosevelt – the justices heard oral arguments in a case – had special meaning.

Rucker is a part of Roosevelt's laundry list of notable alumni, which ranges from members of The Jackson 5 to several former professional athletes to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. * * *

Rucker spent nearly 15 years as a deputy prosecutor and a city attorney for Gary before becoming the first African-American judge to be appointed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In 1999, Rucker became only the second African-American appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

"In some ways I had to pinch myself," Rucker said, referring to when he first heard about his selection to the Supreme Court. "There's absolutely nothing in my background that could've anticipated that result. I was from a family that had no political clout. There were no professionals in my family."

But it was Rucker's legal career and childhood, when he began working at age 11 selling fruits and vegetables out of the back of a truck, that prepared him for the unforgiving work ethic that is required to sit on the bench of state's highest court, he said.

"There's no such thing as a 9-to-5 day," Rucker said. "As my grandmother would say, 'We work from can to can't, which means we work from the time you can see in the morning to when you can't see at night.'"

Throughout his storied career, Rucker's ability to influence those around him transcended the courtroom.

"Justice Rucker is one of the great figures in the history of the state of Indiana," Justice Mark Massa said. "I think it really needs to be said. Particularly after we celebrated our bicentennial. You think about what he's accomplished, from where he came, he's one of the great figures in the 200-year history."

"Lake County pays homage to native son" is the heading to this story today in the NWI Times, reported by Carmen McCollum. The story begins:
GARY — High school students from public and private schools across Lake County peppered retiring Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker with questions about his life, his career and fond memories of his alma mater, Gary Roosevelt High School.

The Indiana Supreme Court traveled to Roosevelt Thursday to hear oral arguments in the case of Danny Sims v. Andrew Pappas and Melissa Pappas. The justices did not issue a decision but said the case would be taken under advisement and a legal opinion will be forthcoming.

About 300 high school students from nine high schools had an opportunity to hear the case. * * *

Schererville attorney Cordell Funk said he came to hear Rucker, and has previously practiced with Rucker and assisted when Rucker was on the Appellate Court.

"I'm here to pay homage to him," Funk said. "I think all of the people are here to pay homage to him. He's from Lake County and well respected in Lake County. We all knew him when he practiced here."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 10, 2017 08:14 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017