Ind. Supreme Court makes stop at VU
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent February 24, 2012 4:08PM
Indiana supreme court justices, Frank Sullivan, Jr., Chief Justice Randal Shepard, Steven David and Robert Rucker (left to right) share a laugh during a question and answer period following oral arguments at the Valparaiso University School of Law Friday Feb. 24, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 26, 2012 8:06AM
VALPARAISO — The Indiana Supreme Court brought its oral arguments in a criminal case from Ripley County to the Valparaiso University School of Law on Friday, drawing more than 100 students and community members.
The case, involving a burglary, centered on whether defendant Steven Hollin, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary, received effective counsel and what, if any, impact that had on the outcome of his case.
But more than the oral arguments offered by Deputy Attorney General Cindy Ploughe and Deputy Public Defender Mike Sauer — much of which focused on the testimony of Hollin’s co-defendant in the case, whether theft is an act of dishonesty, and points of complicated case law — the session offered insight into the work of the state’s highest court.
The Supreme Court travels around the state a few times a year for its oral arguments, and was last at VU in November 2010.
After the 40 minutes of oral arguments, Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who is retiring in March, said he and the other justices would typically go to a conference room to discuss the case at hand and take a tentative vote. In the Hollin case, that will occur next week after the justices have returned to Indianapolis.
The justices, who also include Frank Sullivan Jr., Gary native Robert Rucker Jr., Steven David, and Hobart native Brent Dickson, who was not at VU but will still weigh in on the Hollin case, will decide whether to affirm or reverse the case, or something else, Shepard said.
The justices prepare for hearings similarly, Rucker said, adding he reviews appellate court rulings and trial transcripts, and has a law clerk present an outline of the arguments and a possible line of questioning.
“By the time a case is presented to us for review, we come here ready to engage counsel with some fact-based questions,” he said.
The justices may come to the same decision different ways, David added.
“I think it’s a good thing to have a different approach,” he said. “It’s a fluid process and it makes for a good result.”