Indiana Supreme Court Associate Justices include (from top, left) Robert Rucker, Steven David, Mark Massa and Loretta Rush. One of the four will replace current Chief Justice Brent Dickson.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:45 AM
By MAUREEN HAYDEN
CNHI Statehouse Bureau
– State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers
in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure in the
leadership post. Another surprise may be in store when his replacement
A seven-member panel of lawyers and lay people will
meet at the Statehouse on Aug. 6 to select the court’s next leader.
Unlike Dickson’s selection two years ago, when other justices
unanimously supported their long-serving colleague, there may be a
four-way contest for his successor. The panel’s decision will come after
public sessions in which each justice has 20 minutes to talk about the
qualities they think important in the chief’s job – and, if they want,
to make a pitch for themselves.
The sole woman on the bench,
Justice Loretta Rush, may be the favorite, but there are no safe bets.
“It’s probably never been as wide open a process as it’s going be this
time,” said former Justice Frank Sullivan, who retired from the bench in
2012. Joel Schumm, an Indiana University law professor who writes
about the court for the Indiana Law Blog, concurs.
The court has
only had four chiefs since 1970, when Indiana switched from elections
for Supreme Court to a merit system for selecting them. Candidates for
the Supreme Court are vetted by a commission composed of three members
appointed by the governor, three lawyers elected by fellow lawyers, and
the sitting chief justice, who chairs the commission.