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