Indiana Supreme Court

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The Indiana Supreme Court was established in 1816 when Indiana became a state. The court is housed in the north wing of the Indiana State House building, which is located in Indianapolis.


Indiana Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   5
Founded:   1816
Location:   Indianapolis, Indiana
Chief:  $162,500[1]
Associates:  $160,000[2]
Judicial selection
Method:   Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term:   10 years
Active justices

Brent Dickson  •  Robert Rucker  •  Steven David  •  Loretta H. Rush  •  Mark S. Massa  •  

Seal of Indiana.png


The court consists of one chief justice and four associate justices. The state Constitution allows the Indiana General Assembly to increase the number of associate justices to a maximum eight, for a total of nine justices.

The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Chief Justice Brent Dickson1986-2018Gov. Robert Orr
Justice Robert Rucker1999-2022Gov. Frank O'Bannon
Justice Steven David2010-2022Gov. Mitch Daniels
Judge Loretta H. Rush2012-2016Gov. Mitch Daniels
Associate justice Mark S. Massa2012-2016Gov. Mitch Daniels


The Indiana Supreme Court reviews decisions of the Indiana Court of Appeals and the Indiana Tax Court. According to the state's constitution: "The Supreme Court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction under such terms and conditions as specified by rules except that appeals from a judgment imposing a sentence of death shall be taken directly to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall have, in all appeals of criminal cases, the power to review all questions of law and to review and revise the sentence imposed."[3]

Judicial selection

Indiana Supreme Court justices are chosen using a Missouri Plan selection system. A list of three nominees is submitted by the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission to the Governor. If the Governor fails to choose a new justice within 60 days, the chief justice or the acting chief justice must do so. The appointed justice serves for two years before running for retention in the next general election.

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Indiana was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Indiana received a score of 0.01. Based on the justices selected, Indiana was the 24th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[4]


To be eligible to serve on the supreme court, a candidate must have practiced law in Indiana for at least 10 years or have served at least five years as a trial court judge. Individuals recommended to the Governor for appointment, by the judicial nominating commission, must be the "most highly qualified candidates," under Public Law 427 of 1971. Considerations include a candidate's legal education, legal writings, reputation in the legal community, physical health, financial interests and public service contributions.[5]

Removal of justices

There are three ways an Indiana judge may be removed from office:

  • On the recommendation of the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, the supreme court may discipline, suspend, retire or remove a judge.
  • A judge may be impeached by the house of representatives and convicted by the senate.
  • A judge may be removed by a joint resolution of the general assembly, upon the agreement of two-thirds of the members of each house."[6]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2012 1,020 1,095
2011 1,095 1,037
2010 1,029 920
2009 1,140 1,163
2008 1,217 1,200
2007 1,065 1,096


Notable decisions


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Indiana earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[17]

History of the court

Indiana State Capitol, which contains the Indiana Supreme Court, in Indianapolis

The court is governed by Article 7 of the Indiana Constitution and is the highest judicial body within the state. The first court convened at Corydon, Indiana on May 5, 1817, with three judges, appointed by the Governor. These first judges were appointed to seven-year terms. In 1925, the seat of government moved to Indianapolis. Under a new constitution that was adopted in 1851, the court's justices were elected by the people, instead of being appointed by the Governor. The number of justices was "not less then three, nor more than five judges," and their terms lasted "for six years, if they so long behave well."

In 1853, four districts with four Supreme Court justices began their terms. By 1872, the caseload had grown, and the General Assembly increased in the number of judges to five. In 1891, the General Assembly created an appellate court to reduce the number of cases handled by the supreme court. However, the appellate court's jurisdiction was limited to appeals on "certain minor classes of cases."[18]

Chief justice

Randall Shepard was the longest serving chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. He was appointed to the court by Governor Robert D. Orr in 1985 at the age of 38, to become its ninety-ninth justice. He became chief justice in March 1987 and served until March 2012. The chief justice is appointed for a five-year term to preside over the court. When the position of chief justice becomes vacant, the most senior member of the court serves as the acting chief justice, until a new chief justice is appointed.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Notable firsts

See also

External links


IndianaIndiana Supreme CourtIndiana Court of AppealsIndiana Superior CourtsIndiana Circuit CourtsIndiana Small Claims CourtsSt. Joseph County Probate Court, IndianaIndiana Tax CourtIndiana Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of IndianaUnited States District Court for the Southern District of IndianaUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of IndianaUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of IndianaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Seventh CircuitIndiana countiesIndiana judicial newsIndiana judicial electionsJudicial selection in IndianaIndianaTemplate.jpg


JudgeIncumbencyRetention voteRetention Vote %
RuckerRobert Rucker   ApprovedAYes 71.4%ApprovedA
DavidSteven David   ApprovedAYes 68.9%ApprovedA