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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vacancy On Supreme Court 2017 - Day 1: Report On Interview #1, Mr. Ralph E. Dowling

This is Prof. Joel Schumm's report on the 1st interview of Day 1

Mr. Ralph E. Dowling, Muncie (photo) (application)

There is no set opening question. Chief Justice Rush quoted Socrates’ four characteristics of being a judge: listen courteously, answer wisely, consider soberly, decide impartially. Mr. Dowling said he would be strongest at listening courteously and has done so in his professional life.

Mr. Berger asked what about the most significant decision of the Indiana Supreme Court in the past twelve months. Mr. Dowling said the decision in Yeakle was especially important for those who do personal injury. He summarized the case’s reasoning at some length and said it clarified the law.

In response to a question from Mr. Yakym, Mr. Dowling said in interpreting a statute he would start with the language and punctuation of the statute, which is evidence of legislative intent. Only if ambiguous would he look to other statutes and whether the interpretation is a sensible one. Courts can also point out ambiguities that can be addressed in a later legislative session.

In response to a question from Mr. Feighner, Mr. Dowling said he would most want to emulate former Justice Dickson, who taught him state constitutional law in law school and judged him in a moot court final. He also discussed a case he later argued to the Court and Justice Dickson’s approach to it.

In response to a question from Ms. Kitchell about court’s influencing the business climate in the state, he emphasized the importance of stability to ensure businesses would stay and move to the state.

In response to a question from Ms. Long about road show arguments, Mr. Dowling said Anderson would be an excellent place because there is a university, where students would attend and learn.

In response to a question from Mr. Young about a case on his application, Mr. Dowling discussed multi-state litigation regarding safety switches to protect people from injuries.

In response to a question about Chief Justice Rush about technology and the recent proposed rule amendment, Mr. Dowling said he had not read the recent proposed rule amendment but was very competent with computers, beginning in 1984 as a professor at Ball State. He has e-filed extensively in federal court and in some state trial courts who recently began requiring it. When pressed about the proposed rule, he said it is mandatory that lawyers understand how to use technology in creating documents and persuading jurors.

In response to a question about Mr. Berger about negative qualities someone might point out if they wrote a letter about him, Mr. Dowling said he tends to be a perfectionist and spend more time on things than he needs to. He said he thinks it would be fun to be on the Supreme Court because he would have time to be a perfectionist and carefully craft opinions.

In response to a question from Mr. Yakym about skill set for the position, Mr. Dowling explained he graduated from law school at 37 after he had written and taught about communication and debate. He has a great appreciation for every written word.

In response to a question from Mr. Feighner about dissents, Mr. Dowling said if a justice thinks the majority is wrong it should be communicated, sometimes in an opinion or more silently but always respectfully. When asked about the audience for a dissent, Mr. Dowling mentioned that some dissents will become majority opinions in the future.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2017 10:15 AM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017