The nine semifinalists for the Indiana Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Ted Boehm comprise perhaps the best class
of candidates for the position in decades.
That’s how Sue Shields, who grew to become a legend in the Indiana legal profession before retiring as a U.S. magistrate in 2006, sees the group announced yesterday from an initial field of 34.
When the nine are narrowed to three finalists by the Judicial Nominating Commission, Gov. Mitch Daniels should have little trouble naming a justice he likes, Shields says.
“This panel is just outstanding. The quality is just excellent,” she says. “It’s a good mix.”
The nine are Baker & Daniels Partner Ellen Boshkoff; Boone County Circuit Judge Steve David; Kip Drew, associate general counsel at Indiana University; Johnson County Superior Judge Cynthia Emkes; Tom Fisher, solicitor general at the Indiana Attorney General’s Office; Marion Superior County Judge Robyn Moberly; Bingham McHale Partner Karl Mulvaney; Hamilton County Superior Judge Steve Nation; and state Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford.
Many observers think Daniels should name a woman, since none of the four remaining justices are female, and Boshkoff, Drew, Emkes and Moberly are women.
In that light, Shields says her list of finalists would actually be four: Boshkoff, Emkes, Moberly and Nation.
“There are, in my opinion, at least four very strong candidates,” she says. “I don’t know who I cut out.”
Shields emphasizes that her picks are based heavily on her positive experiences with the four. The only semifinalists she has virtually no knowledge of are David and Steele.
Daniels’ ultimate decision is difficult to predict, Shields says. She cannot discern a pattern in his choices for judges, some of whom she describes as dark horses. Still, Shields says she has “utmost respect” for Daniels, who also is a Republican, and believes he characteristically has “good reasons” for his choices.
What are your thoughts on the finalists, and the selection process? Would you have named the same nine? Who should make the short list?