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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Search begins for new Indiana tax court judge

Statement issued Thursday:

Judge Thomas G. Fisher, Indiana’s first Tax Court Judge will step down from the bench on January 1, 2011.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, upon learning of Judge Fisher’s decision said, “Those who worked to create the Indiana Tax Court in 1986 hoped that our state would benefit from thoughtful and predictable application of the tax laws. The energy and superb craftsmanship of Judge Thomas Fisher have made this come true. Indiana is a better place for taxpayers, homeowners, and business investors because of the splendid public service he has rendered.”

Judge Fisher was appointed to the Indiana Tax Court by Governor Robert Orr in 1986. During his career on the bench, Judge Fisher has decided approximately 800 cases. For each case there has been at least one court session and sometimes more.

Former Tax Court Clerk Martha Wentworth, Director of the Indiana multistate group at Deloitte Tax LLP and adjunct professor teaching state taxation at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, notes that Judge Fisher is nationally recognized for building a unified body of Indiana common law in taxation. As the first and only Indiana Tax Court Judge, Judge Fisher’s accomplishments are laudable not just because they are unique, but also because they uphold the delicate balance of law and fairness necessary between state tax administration and taxpayer rights.

Judge Fisher was born in Flint, Michigan on May 15, 1940. He grew up in the Flint area and graduated from Holly Area High School in 1958. He attended Earlham College, graduating in 1962. He graduated from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1965.

In 1965, after being admitted to the practice of law, he began a county seat practice in Jasper County, with offices in both Rensselaer and Remington. In 1967 he was appointed by Governor Roger Branigin as Jasper County prosecuting attorney. He was reelected to that office four times and was serving in that capacity when Governor Orr appointed him in 1986. During his career as a practicing attorney, he also served as attorney for the towns of Demotte and Remington and as counsel to the Jasper County Economic Development Commission. He also served as President of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Association and as Chair of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. In 1986, his fellow prosecuting attorneys presented him with the Eugene “Shine” Feller award. He was also a lecturer in business law at St. Joseph’s College.

While Judge of the Indiana Tax Court, Judge Fisher served as chair of the National Conference of State Tax Judges. In 2001, he was presented with the Larry Lasser award as the year’s outstanding state tax judge.

Indiana Tax Court Judge

Thomas G. Fisher

He has served on Judicial Advisory Board, Law and Organizational Economics Institute, University of Kansas, 1997-1999; Earlham College Board of Trustees, 1995-2004 and Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Race & Gender Fairness. In April of this year, Judge Fisher was inducted into the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Academy of Alumni Law Fellows. This is the highest honor that the Maurer School of Law can bestow on a graduate.

Judge Fisher has been active in a number of professional and civic associations, most notably the Indianapolis Rotary Club, serving as its president in 2000-2001. In 2008-2009, he served as an officer of Rotary International, serving as District Governor for Rotary District 6560, superintending 45 Rotary clubs in central Indiana. Former Tax Court Clerk Bill Barrett, partner at Williams Barrett & Wilkowski LLP in Greenwood and fellow Rotarian, said, “Judge Fisher joined Rotary in 1970 and has served as President of the Rensselaer and Indianapolis Rotary Clubs. Judge Fisher’s special interests include aid to and exchanges with the people of southern Africa as they struggle against poverty and AIDS.”

Judge Fisher is also a member and past president of the Columbia Club. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Society of Indiana Pioneers and the Board of Conner Prairie Foundation. In addition, he is a Meals on Wheels volunteer. He is married to Barbara Fisher. The couple has two children, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher and Anne Craun, of Converse, Ind., and seven grandchildren.

The seven-member Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission will search for Judge Fisher’s successor. Chaired by Chief Justice Shepard, the Commission will interview candidates on September 27, 2010 for first round interviews and on October 27, 2010 for second round interviews. The Commission will send the names of three candidates to Governor Mitch Daniels. The Governor will select Indiana's next Judge of the Indiana Tax Court.

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