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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vacancy On Supreme Court 2017 - Day 1: Report On Interview #5, Rep. Thomas W. Washburne

This is Prof. Joel Schumm's report on the 5th interview of Day 1

Rep. Thomas W. Washburne, Evansville (photo) (application)

Chief Justice Rush began by asking if Rep. Washburne would be able to declare a statute unconstitutional—and what would be the guiding principles. He responded that he does not see the role of the Court to expand the Constitution and judges must focus on the text and what it meant at the time drafted and ratified.

When asked about his experience as a legislator, Rep. Washburne noted that 83% of Court opinions are unanimous, and that he similarly works in the legislature to develop a consensus. He also discussed his varied practice experience in a small firm and as a corporate lawyer.

In response to Ms. Long’s question, Rep. Washburne would ask the founding fathers what they meant by the establishment of religion.

When asked by Mr. Young about his view of common law, Rep. Washburne said he prefers the general applicability in criminal cases instead of creating a lot of new statutes to various situations.

Mr. Berger noted that he was on the JNC that sent Justice Rucker’s name to the Governor in 1999 and asked what the JNC should consider this time. Rep. Washburne said it was important to understand the role of the Court. Diversity is important but comes in many forms, including practice and geography.

When asked by Mr. Yakym about making the transition from the legislative to judicial branch, Rep. Washburne noted that he makes a transition every Friday from legislator to corporate lawyer. He noted the role of the Court is determine what the law is. (Mr. Feighner noted that Justice O’Connor was a state legislator and Chief Justice Warren was a Governor.)

In response to a question from Mr. Feighner about funding legal services for indigent people, Rep. Washburne discussed efforts for Public Defender Commission reimbursement for misdemeanors and increasing funding from 40% to 50%. He believes a fundamental purpose of government is to fund services that are constitutionally required.

In response to the question about business climate, Rep. Washburne said the same principles apply universally to all litigants: to be fair, be timely, and be accurate.

When asked what he was most proud of, he discussed his family, pointing out he had brought four of his five children with him to the interview.

Rep. Washburne discussed his effort to provide law clerk support for trial courts in Indiana, growing out of his experience as a law clerk for Judge Dillin. Judges may now secure the assistance of senior judges and third-year law students to assist with complex motions.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 21, 2017 12:20 PM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017