Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Supreme Court Candidates In The Hot Seat

The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission began the process of conducting first-round interviews of 34 attorneys who have applied for the Supreme Court vacancy to be created by the retirement of Justice Ted Boehm. IU Indy Law Professor Joel Schumm on behalf of the The Indiana Law Blog covered each of the interviews and offered some interesting observations about some of the candidates. I've picked out a few to share with you below, some of which are quite humorous. You can view all of them by clicking here. The Indiana Law Blog also has links to the applications submitted by each of the applicants. Peruse them for your enjoyment. Some of them are quite interesting. The Commission will continue interviewing the remainder of the candidates tomorrow.

  • Ellen Boshkoff, a partner with Baker & Daniels, told the commission she tries a lot of cases. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m stubborn.”
  • "Judge [Elaine] Brown was the only candidate who seemed to have prepared an opening speech and occasionally looked down at notes. She thanked the commission for allowing her to deliver 'that monologue,' which lasted more than ten minutes."
  • Monica Foster, an attorney in private practice said, "The justices’ job is 'the coolest job' a person could have. She described herself as 'fun to work with' and has a good reputation of working with others."
  • Sen. Brent Steele, the only politician who applied for the position, explaining why he favors merit selection over electing judges: "[R]aising money is the hardest thing he must do as a legislator. People give money because they think legislators will vote a certain way. If the legislator does not vote that way, the money will dry up. If Indiana elected judges statewide, they would be required to raise a lot of money. Judges should be free of that requirement and the concerns about fairness for those who have contributed money."
  • Kipley Drew, in-house counsel for IU, said, "She appreciates that the Court, unlike SCOTUS, is not a 'political court.'" "Based on her clerking experience she understands and appreciates the importance of collegiality."
  • "Mr. [Geoffrey] Slaughter received a round of laughter when responding he should withhold judgment until he sees the results of this process." He is a partner at the Taft law firm.
  • "Of the 19 candidates interviewed today, Mr. [Donald] Tribbett seemed to have the biggest problem in this department [personality and demeanor]" "In response to the first question from the Chief Justice about his reasons for applying, Tribbett quipped, 'It’s not the money.'" "He noted that he could not have applied ten years ago because of financial commitments but will be making his last tuition payment in the next year." "But it got worse." "He admitted part of the reason for applying was an 'ego thing' and proceeded to list his many accomplishments in a monologue that used well over half of his interview time". "In stark contrast to the modesty of applicants throughout the day, at one point Mr. Tribbett literally patted himself on the back when telling the commission how he had negotiated a land sale for five times what the sellers had thought it was worth."
  • "Judge [Robert] Spahr’s interview was easily the most awkward of the day." "Although the commission members were very gracious in their questioning, the thought of Judge Spahr asking questions during oral argument or giving speeches as a representative of the Court would likely be a cause for concern." "Throughout the interview he would pose questions to the members." “Do you have any other questions?” “Have you ever written a book?” “Have you ever got a call at 1:00 in the morning?” He told the Commission that trial courts are often "confused" by appellate decisions on a question about the state of the judiciary.


Cato said...

You lose all respect for the sagacity and wisdom of the law and the yellowed opinions of the courts when you graduate from law school and see your fellow students whom you know to be of middling intellect but oversized ambition become legislators and judges, making laws from each respective branch.

When you see someone become a judge whom you regard as a horrible person, a viciously selfish attorney and one who will lend the power of his office to advance the station of his or her own family, you lose the ability to look at a court opinion with anything but a jaded sneer.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Hasn't anyone told you, Cato? Life isn't fair. When I was in the sixth grade, I had a social studies teacher who made a statement that seemed rather odd at the time. She said she felt sorry for the young boys in her class. You will not necessarily be judged in life on merit when you enter the workforce and you will face overt discrimination in favor of women and minorities she told us. She wasn't a bigoted person. She was strict when it came to discipline, occasionally taking the wooden paddle out of her closet. She usually just set it out as a warning before putting it to use. She was one of the most intelligent teachers I had growing up. She had pictures of every world leader hanging on the walls in her classroom. She would take time almost every day to share something about one of them to us. That statement she made to the boys in the classroom that day turned out to be one of the most profound and prophetic statements I recall hearing from any of my teachers.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Geez, after reading about these candidates, maybe I should have applied.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Most of the interviews seemed to go quite well for the applicants, Paul, if you read all of the comments. I picked out some of the more entertaining observations Schumm made about some of the candidates.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are correct. I looked at the rest of the inteviews...not nearly as entertaining.

I'm reminded of an old Cheers episode where Norm was applying for a job as a beer taster, his dream job. All he had to do was meet the boss. Diane though had put it into his head about screwing it up...which he did. It was hilarious.


Cato said...

"Hasn't anyone told you, Cato? Life isn't fair."

True, but that's really not my lament. My complaint is that we are told to respect and revere something that is the product of shallow intellect and self-serving ambition.

I gave no consent to such a system of government, and it does not deserve my respect or obedience.