Criminal Justice

Dickson To Step Down As Indiana Chief Justice

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June 12, 2014 — Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports on the announcement that a new Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice will be selected soon.


INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson announced Wednesday he will step down as the state’s highest judge before Sept. 1 after just two years in the position – but he will stay on as an associate justice until he’s forced by law to retire in 2016.

“It has been a great joy and a privilege to have helped continue the court’s tradition of excellence – especially with four hard-working colleagues who are devoted to the law,” Dickson said in a statement.

In 1986, Dickson was appointed the 100th justice in the Indiana. Before taking the position as chief justice in May 2012, Dickson had served as an associate justice for 26 years.

During his time as chief, Dickson worked on initiatives to provide the needy with volunteer attorneys and increases public safety by changing the pre-trial release system. He took over the top job from Randall Shepard, who held it for 25 years, and then oversaw a period of transition.

“Chief Dickson has very capably led the Indiana Supreme Court through a period of remarkable change, as the court welcomed two new members in 2012 and another in 2010,” said Joel Schumm, a law professor at Indiana University. “He has led a court that issued significant and thoughtful opinions, usually unanimously, on a wide range of issues.”

The Judicial Nominating Commission plans to meet Aug. 6 to choose a new chief justice, who will come from among the current associates. Seven people serve on the commission: Three attorneys selected by their peers and three Hoosiers – two appointed by Gov. Mike Pence and one who was appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Dickson will chair the commission.

The commission has asked the current members of the court to weigh in on the role the chief justice should service and then meet in an executive session to make the choice.

Schumm, who follows the court closely and writes for the Indiana Law Blog, said he expects Justice Steven David – who expressed interest in the position of chief justice two years – will consider seeking the job.

Schumm also said Justice Loretta Rush, the court’s new member, “would be an excellent choice as well.”

Dickson, who must retire from the court in two years when he turns 75, received accolades Wednesday for his work as chief justice.

Pence said Dickson has “brought his outstanding legal expertise and practical judgment to bear throughout his 28 years as a member of the court.”

“I know him to be a man of great faith,” Pence said. “And I applaud his long-standing commitment to public service in the legal system and look forward to his continued wisdom as he remains on the court.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Dickson has served “with great dignity, wisdom and fairness, and all attorneys who appear before the court know they must be prepared during oral argument for the chief justice’s thorough questions and penetrating insight. “

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Dickson has “served all Hoosiers with unquestioned integrity and continuous dedication. Since his appointment as Indiana’s 100th justice through his appointment as chief justice, Brent Dickson’s commitment to fairness and to the integrity of Indiana’s judicial system is second to none.”

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