State Supreme Court justice talks case load at Valpo luncheon
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 17, 2012 4:40PM
Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson speaks during a Kiwanis Club lunch meeting at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso, Ind. Wednesday October 17, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:11PM
VALPARAISO — Indiana State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson gave a nod to the upcoming election and provided insight into the inner workings of the state’s highest court Wednesday.
The Hobart native, who also made appearances at his alma maters Liberty Elementary School and Hobart High School during his visit to the region, spoke as a guest of the Kiwanis Club of Valparaiso at Strongbow Inn. About 200 people attended the luncheon, including Porter County judges and other members of the legal community.
Dickson took over for Randall Shepard when he retired in May. Former Gov. Robert Orr appointed Dickson to the state Supreme Court in 1986, after Dickson worked as an attorney in Lafayette for 17 years.
He thanked elected officials for their service and, though he said he was ready for the election to be over, asked the audience to consider the alternative — living under a dictator.
“I think I’ll take the noise of our election any day,” he said.
He gave an overview of the state court system, noting that 1.68 million cases were filed in Indiana last year. Of those, 2,400 went to the Court of Appeals, and that court sent 1,095 of the cases on for review by the Supreme Court.
The court has the option of letting a ruling stand or taking it on for review, and reviews average 100 cases per year.
“It’s a discretionary call,” he said, adding 45 percent of the cases are criminal and include everything from public intoxication to murder.
Some cases bypass the Court of Appeals and head straight to the Supreme Court, including death penalty cases. Constitutional challenges to state statutes also move a case to the front of the line, which is what happened with the state’s school voucher program.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the controversial case Nov. 21.
“Tune in,” Dickson said. “We’ll have more about this issue as the case moves along.”