A state panel chose three finalists Friday for an upcoming vacancy on the Indiana Supreme Court and gave Gov. Mitch Daniels
the opportunity to appoint the first woman to the state's highest court since 1999.
The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission selected Marion Superior Court Judge Robyn Moberly, Boone Circuit Judge Steven David and Indianapolis attorney Karl Mulvaney after interviewing nine finalists — five men and four women — Friday afternoon.
"All three of these people come across as reasonable, pragmatic, fair-minded," said Joel Schumm, an Indiana judiciary expert and professor at the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.
Moberly, 56, of Indianapolis, the only female finalist, has been a Marion Superior Court judge since 1997, trying domestic violence and major criminal cases before moving on to civil disputes in recent years.
If selected, Moberly would become only the second female justice in the court's history and the first since Myra Selby stepped down in 1999.
Indiana's is one of only two top state courts in the country without a female justice, and retiring Justice Theodore Boehm, who is leaving in September, has said he hopes Daniels will pick a woman to replace him.
Daniels hasn't talked publicly about what criteria he will consider for the appointment.
Mulvaney, 60, is a partner in the Indianapolis law firm of Bingham McHale and was the administrator of the Indiana Supreme Court from 1984 to 1991. He's argued scores of appeals before both the state Supreme Court and the Indiana Court of Appeals, Schumm said.
"Karl knows more about the court and appellate process than anyone in the state," Schumm said.
David, 53, of Whitestown, about 20 miles northwest of Indianapolis, is a former U.S. Army judge advocate general who worked on reforming the treatment of detainees in Iraq in 2003 and at one time was chief defense counsel for detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Schumm said David is well-liked by other trial judges and received letters of support for the Supreme Court vacancy from at least 10, including two who did not survive the first round of the nominating process.
In Indiana, David might be best known for a 2005 ruling that barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty a third time in the case of Zolo Agona Azania, who was convicted of killing a Gary police officer in 1981. The Indiana Supreme Court overturned his first two death sentences. Azania accepted a 60-year sentence in 2008.