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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vacancy On Supreme Court 2017 - Round 2: Report On Interview #1, Hon. Vicki L. Carmichael

This is Prof. Joel Schumm's report on the 1st interview of Round 2

Hon. Vicki L. Carmichael, Clark Circuit Court 4 (photo) (application) (first interview)

In response to the opening question from the Chief Justice, why does she want to be on the Indiana Supreme Court, Judge Carmichael said decisions are made that affect all of Indiana, and she wants a seat at the table. She explained the important role of the Court, including its opinions (often unanimous) and rule-making. She also discussed protecting criminal defendant’s rights, including the early appointment of counsel, which was discussed at the April 7 Indiana Law Review symposium at which she was a panelist.

In response to a question from Ms. Kitchell about the most radical position she has taken in her professional life, Judge Carmichael discussed a local ordinance regarding sex offenders that she believed was unconstitutional. She met with parties in chambers and asked them to fix it before holding a hearing. A new ordinance was enacted but ultimately found unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals.

In response to a question from Mr. Feighner about Clark County becoming a unified court, Judge Carmichael emphasized the utility of administration through one budget and ease in transferring cases between judges.

In response to a question from Mr. Berger about learning more about applicants as a “person” by understanding “what keeps them up at night,” Judge Carmichael responded cases involving children (CHINS and delinquency) and struggles with issues regarding heroin in her county.

In response to a question from Mr. Young about replacing Justice Rucker, who had “courage and fortitude to protect rights” of the voiceless, Judge Carmichael said she has compassion and brings that to the bench. She was a public defender for twelve years—working with the good, bad, and ugly. She believes it is important to help others and focus on the needs of litigants at the time.

In response to a question from Ms. Long about commitment to judicial restraint, Judge Carmichael said she will listen to disputes and make tough decisions — not overstepping her bounds. She noted the difficulty of balancing when one party is self-represented and other is represented by counsel.

When asked by Chief Justice Rush about overturning precedent, Judge Carmichael emphasized the importance of giving predictability and stability. She said new issues — like Internet solicitation of police officers pretending to be children — present challenges when society and technology changes.

In response to a question from Ms. Kitchell about changing the Constitution, Judge Carmichael said she did not believe the Constitution did need to be changed but some rules may need to be changed to make the criminal process and perhaps the civil process more fair.

In response to a question from Mr. Feighner about cases with political aspects (two are included on her application, one was a special judge appointment), she said she talked with the parties and they agreed she could be fair. She does not look at politics in making decisions; she believes judges should be apolitical and impartial. Following up about the case she would make the Governor (as a Democrat) if a finalist, Judge Carmichael said she does not view the JNC as political but instead committed to sending the best three applicants who won’t embarrass. Her background is fair, impartial, and unbiased. She believes judicial elections should be non-partisan. She is a person of integrity and character. She will bring gender and geographic diversity.

Mr. Yakym asked about a 2013 article in which Judge Carmichael said her least favorite part of the job was the administrative tasks, she explained the challenges of asking the Council for money and personnel issues. Even if her least favorite part of the job, she enjoys working with other judges and on committees and would bring that enthusiasm to the Court.

Mr. Berger asked about diversity, noting that the Court’s most recent roadshow argument was in Gary and the significance to students if the Court returned and was “all white people.” Judge Carmichael discussed looking beyond race, noting that she goes to a high school in Jeffersonville, sometimes with a white staff, and believes the students are receptive because she approaches all people with an open mind. She has been a featured speaker at the NAACP, where they see her as Judge Carmichael.

When asked about mentors, Judge Carmichael mentioned a prominent criminal defense attorney in Kentucky who taught her the importance of being prepared, and an “incredibly active” justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court for whom she clerked and who read cases every night.

In response to a question from Ms. Long about the role of the judicial branch, Judge Carmichael emphasized the importance of interpreting laws and not interfering with the legislative or executive branch.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 18, 2017 10:33 AM
Posted to Vacancy on Supreme Court - 2017