By Kathryn Dolan
Indiana Supreme Court Public Information Officer
Indiana Justice Brent E. Dickson will step down from the bench in spring 2016, after 30 years as a judicial branch leader. He is Indiana’s 100th Supreme Court justice and the second-longest-serving justice in state history.
“During my 17 years of general and trial practice as a lawyer in Lafayette, it had never occurred to me to seek appellate judicial service,” Dickson said. “But at the suggesting and urging of others, I applied. Three decades later, I am immensely gratified to have been able to serve the citizens of Indiana for so many years. I sincerely hope Indiana attorneys and judges will take a moment to reflect on the possibility that my upcoming vacancy is meant for them or someone they know.”
Dickson was appointed by Governor Robert D. Orr in 1986. He has served with 12 other justices: Givan, Pivarnik, DeBruler, Shepard, Krahulik, Selby, Sullivan, Rucker, Boehm, David, Massa and Rush. In May, 2012, at the urging of colleagues and state leaders, he accepted the position of Chief Justice to provide stability to a changing court. He served as Chief Justice for more than two years, stepping down in August, 2014 and remaining on the court.
During his judicial career, he has authored 884 civil and criminal opinions, including 718 majority and 166 non-majority, and several law review articles. Dickson chaired the Supreme Court’s Records Management Committee, Judicial Data Processing Oversight Committee, the Task Force for Public Access to Court Records and several other committees. He also served many years as the court’s liaison to the disciplinary commission and Board of Law Examiners.
For 10 years, he taught evening law school courses in Indiana Constitutional law. Dickson is known for his efforts to enhance attorney civility, increase lawyer pro bono legal services, encourage mediation and support the jury trial system. He is co-founder of the Sagamore Chapter of the American Inns of Court in Indianapolis, an organization that promotes lawyer civility and professionalism. He is also a registered mediator, an elected member of the American Law Institute and serves on the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement.
“Throughout Justice Brent Dickson’s historic tenure on the Indiana Supreme Court, his intellect and opinions have shaped Indiana law and judicial practice for the benefit of all Hoosiers. His tenure, including as Chief Justice of Indiana, has been characterized by integrity and a deep devotion to the judiciary in this state and he will be missed.
“For most Hoosiers, it is hard to envision a time when Brent Dickson was not a member of the Indiana Supreme Court. Appointed by former Governor Robert Orr in 1986, Justice Dickson will have served the Court and his fellow citizens for more than 30 years — longer than anyone appointed or elected to the court since the adoption of the Indiana Constitution of 1851.
“Upon his retirement, Justice Dickson will leave behind a body of law skillfully crafted by his careful reading of the Indiana and United States constitutions and his commitment to the rule of law.
“On a personal level, I have always been inspired by Justice Dickson’s faith, character and devotion to his wife, Jan, his children and grandchildren and wish him every blessing when he steps down next year.”
A biography can be found online.
The exact date Dickson will step down is not known; however, he faces a mandatory retirement in July. The Judicial Nominating Commission will search for a successor to fill the vacancy; applications will be available on the court’s website Thursday, Nov. 12.