Chesterton Tribune

Indiana chief justice to step down in March

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CHARLES WILSON,

Associated press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said Wednesday he will retire next March after a quarter-century leading the state’s highest court.

Shepard was appointed to the court in 1985 by then-Gov. Robert Orr and become chief justice two years later at age 38. At the time, he was the nation’s youngest chief justice. At 65, he is the longest serving state chief justice in the nation.

“Most Hoosiers recognize the historic place Randy Shepard will always hold in Indiana judicial history. What fewer people may know is there is no more nationally respected Supreme Court judge in any state in America, and this has been so for a very long time,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement.

“I look forward to identifying and appointing a person of highest character and quality, but I have no illusions we are likely to find another Randy Shepard now or anytime soon,” Daniels said.

On the current court, three justices were appointed by Republicans and two by Democratic governors. Indiana voters voted to retain Shepard three times. In 2008, he received the highest number of “yes” votes ever cast for a justice.

Shepard’s writings have been cited in textbooks and journals and even by the U.S. Supreme Court, the state Supreme Court said in the announcement. He may be especially known, however, for his efforts to modernize Indiana’s court system and improve the way it does business. Under Shepard, the court began webcasting all of its oral arguments and issued new jury instructions in plain English to make the law easier for jurors to understand.

In 2007, Daniels appointed Shepard along with former Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan to co-chair the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform, which that year issued a list of 27 ways to streamline local government that became known as the “Kernan-Shepard Report.” Several of the proposals were implemented, though the Legislature has never approved its recommendations for township reform.

Shepard is an Evansville native who continued to read his hometown newspaper on a daily basis.

The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, which is chaired by Shepard, will search for a new chief justice and interview candidates in February, the court said. The Commission will then send the names of three candidates to Daniels, who will appoint Shepard’s successor.

 

Posted 12/7/2011