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1st woman named to Ind. Supreme Court since ’99

LorettRush is introduced as new Supreme Court judge by Gov. Mitch Daniels right Statehouse  Friday Sept. 14 2012 Indianapolis.

Loretta Rush is introduced as the new Supreme Court judge by Gov. Mitch Daniels, right, at the Statehouse Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Indianapolis. Gov. Mitch Daniels named the Tippecanoe County judge as the first woman on the bench of the Indiana Supreme Court in 13 years. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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Updated: October 16, 2012 6:07AM



INDIANAPOLIS — A county judge who’s led a push for better and more uniform protections for Indiana’s abused and neglected children has become only the second woman in state history appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Loretta Rush, a juvenile court judge in Tippecanoe County whose selection was announced Friday by Gov. Mitch Daniels, will end Indiana’s distinction as one of only three states will all-male high courts once she’s sworn in.

Indiana’s first female justice, Myra Selby, stepped down 13 years ago after serving five years on the state’s highest court.

Rush, 54, spent 14 years in private practice with a Lafayette law firm and has served another 14 years on the Tippecanoe Superior Court, to which she was first elected in 1998. Her court focuses on juvenile cases, including guardianships, delinquencies, adoptions and protective order hearings.

Daniels said he hasn’t been oblivious to the lack of women on the court but said his top concern was finding a high-quality replacement for Justice Frank Sullivan, who stepped down in July after 19 years. He said he was impressed by Rush’s credentials.

“I do believe she was clearly the best available choice and I’m totally comfortable with it,” the governor said during a news conference in his Statehouse office. “I gladly would have made it on an utterly blind basis or if there were already two or three women on the Indiana Supreme Court.”

Daniels chose Rush over Hamilton County Judge Steven Nation and Indianapolis attorney Geoffrey Slaughter, making her his third appointment to the court in two years.

The governor said Rush, chairwoman of the Indiana Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, is an “invaluable ally” in efforts to bring improved protections to Indiana children who’ve suffered from “the cruelty of adults.” The governor said that distinction was one of the factors in his decision to tap Rush for the vacancy.

“No one has been more respected in this area than Judge Rush,” he said.

Rush, was joined by her husband Jim Rush and three of their four children at Friday’s announcement, said she was honored and excited to be joining the court but did not feel added pressure in being the second woman named to the bench.

“I’m very thrilled to be a woman justice on the Indiana Supreme Court, but I agree with Governor Daniels that you look at the qualifications, the temperament, the issues — that has to come first,” she said.

Many female attorneys and legislators, and at least two male former justices, had called on Daniels to pick a woman for the court, saying it needed greater diversity. Three of the current justices are white, and one is black.

Rush said she shouted with joy when Daniels called Thursday to offer her the position.

“I hope your hearing has come back to your left ear,” Rush told Daniels, adding that she gave him a very excited “Yes!”

Rush was born in Scranton, Pa., and moved to Indiana in 1976. After graduating from Purdue University in 1980, she washed dishes and did other jobs to work her way through the Indiana University School of Law.

In November 1998, before her first term as a Tippecanoe County judge began, a 27-year-old former juvenile client kicked in the front door of her home and tried to kill her husband. Rush hid their children and tried to get help, but she and her husband both were injured and she later had to have surgery. The attacker was convicted of attempted murder and burglary.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson, who attended Friday’s announcement, said Rush will determine when she’s free to join the court after she wraps up pending cases before her court.

“We’ve got a space for her,” he said.

Indianapolis attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman said she was delighted that Daniels had chosen Rush.

“It’s been a long day coming and I hope now it’s not going to be a big deal for a woman to be appointed in the future. I hope it’s going to become run of the mill,” she said.



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