Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Chief Justice Reflects, Says Goodbye Evansville Native Shepard Leaves His Bench after 25 Years

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Chief Justice Reflects, Says Goodbye Evansville Native Shepard Leaves His Bench after 25 Years

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Randall T. Shepard used the final "State of the Judiciary" address of his 25-year tenure as Indiana chief justice on Wednesday to reflect on the achievements of the state's courts.

The Evansville native used most of the 20-minute speech to rattle off the achievements of members of Indiana's Supreme and appellate courts, as well as county judges such as Vanderburgh County's Wayne Trockman.

"Over time Indiana's courts have become less like a collection of Lone Rangers and more like a group of colleagues with a common purpose," he said.

He said he is thankful for those accomplishments.

"That graciousness, and plain observable facts, will allow me to leave the stage with full confidence that we will succeed in building Indiana as a safe and prosperous and decent place," he said.

The speech came weeks before Shepard leaves the bench, and as a judicial nominating panel begins reviewing applications of those who would replace him.

It came as public officials lined up to praise the outgoing chief justice. Among them were Gov. Mitch Daniels, who praised Shepard in his State of the State address Tuesday night.

"Within weeks, one of the great public careers and, perhaps, the greatest judicial career our state has known, will come to a close," Daniels said.

"Let tonight be one of many occasions on which a grateful and fortunate state thanks you for a quarter century of fairness, firmness, and farsightedness on our highest bench."

The most emotional portion of Shepard's speech came at the end, as he thanked Daniels for Tuesday evening's praise. "I am grateful for what Gov. Daniels said last evening. I am more grateful to have him as inspiration in so many cases," he said.

Shepard also gave a nod to former Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan, the man with whom he chaired a commission that produced a set of 27 local government reform proposals now known as the "Kernan-Shepard report."

"If a fellow imagined he'd be linked in public memory on the back end of a hyphen, where the name at the front was Joe Kernan's, how could you beat it?" he said. He ticked through a list of accomplishments of the state's judiciary in recent years. …

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