INDIANAPOLIS – The decision of who will be the Indiana Supreme Court’s next justice is in the hands of Gov. Mitch Daniels after a seven-member nominating commission Friday settled on three names for final recommendation.
The group spent the day interviewing the nine finalists then took two hours to deliberate in private before publicly announcing the three names that would be forwarded to the governor.
The finalists are Boone County Circuit Judge Steven David, 53; Indianapolis appellate lawyer and former Supreme Court administrator Karl Mulvaney, 60; and Marion Superior Court Judge Robyn Moberly, 56.
Daniels now has 60 days to make the appointment, during which time he will meet personally with each candidate. He has declined to speak about the process or what factors and characteristics he will consider.
Court observers – and retiring Supreme Court Justice Theodore Boehm – have encouraged Daniels to focus on adding gender diversity to the court. Indiana and Iowa are the only states in which there is not a sitting female justice.
Of the original 34 applicants, 19 were women and 15 were men. Of the nine finalists, five were men and four were women. And one woman made the top three.
Earlier in the day, Moberly told the nominating panel that her finest accomplishment has been her work on a family court project that has allowed various cases involving the same family to be joined together under one judge so that he or she has access to all the relevant information.
She also talked about her work on various Indiana Supreme Court committees, including helping recently to revamp child support guidelines.
I bring a whole different set of life experiences to the court, Moberly said. I think that’s what makes really great decisions. Through collaboration, discussion and debate, different life experiences come together and inform us all on what the best decision is.
David said his most significant accomplishment at first was becoming a lawyer but that was then eclipsed when he became a judge.
At one point he described the nine finalists as baby birds in a nest and said the commission was flying over their heads with a great big worm.
David also told the group he doesn’t blog or participate on Facebook to insulate himself from political pressure.
I don’t want to know what people are saying. I respect their right to say it, but I don’t want to be influenced, he said.
Mulvaney said his greatest accomplishments involve ethics, and he said he supported statewide funding of courts as a needed improvement in the system.
Boehm leaves the court effective Sept. 30. The last time there was a vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court was 1999.