[Nameplate] Fair ~ 73°F  
High: 84°F ~ Low: 67°F
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Justice David credits local courts for doing the heavy lifting

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Following a speech in which he praised the efforts of lawyers and judges at the local level, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steve David (left) chats with attorneys Scott Bieniek and John Zeiner following Wednesday's Greencastle Rotary Club meeting.
United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently made headlines by uttering his first words from the bench in seven years.

Based on a Wednesday talk to the Greencastle Rotary Club, it's safe to say Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steve David has no such record.

The state's 106th Supreme Court justice was engaging and often funny in his speech, holding court on topics such as his appointment by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, high school with current Gov. Mike Pence and his experiences as a military lawyer defending the 9-11 terrorists.

The job of Chief Defense Counsel at Guantanamo was not one David sought, but a duty the retired colonel was assigned in the army.

After telling his superiors he would rather be a prosecutor in the case, he was told, "We don't need a prosecutor. We need defense counsel."

Informing his late father he would be defending the attackers was a stressful and slightly humorous moment for David.

"He looked at me and said, 'Don't work too hard," David said with a smile. After a short pause, though, sage fatherly advice kicked in.

"Son, go do your duty," the elder David added.

Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley (left) chats with Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steve David following Wednesday's meeting of the Greencastle Rotary Club.
In his civilian legal career, David served as Boone Circuit Court judge before his appointment to the state high court.

The grueling application process included a one-on-one interview with Daniels that David described as "the toughest interview I've ever had."

On the heels of the governor's interrogation, though, came the aw-shucks side of Daniels that endeared him to Indiana voters for eight years.

"Judge, is this a good time?" Daniels asked in a 2010 call to David. "I've been thinking about this, and are you still interested in that Supreme Court position?"

David's history with the new governor goes back a bit further.

As a senior at Columbus North, David had developed quite a reputation in speech and debate, thought of as one of the best high school speakers in the state heading into his senior year.

But then along came a "kick-posterior" sophomore debater at Columbus North who relegated David to not even being the best speaker at his high school.

That young hot shot turned out to be Pence, who would go on to serve 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected Indiana's 50th governor last November.

"Now I go to the statehouse, and there he is again," David said.

Justice Steven David
Speaking more seriously, David gave the lion's share of credit to local attorneys in the workings of the legal system. He pointed out that 1.5 million cases are filed in the Indiana justice system, but only 125 or so make it to the Supreme Court each year.

"The bulk of the legal work is done by the lawyers and the trial judges," David said.

The statement was certainly met with the approval of the eight local attorneys in attendance Wednesday, just as a statement about Rotarians met with the approval of all in attendance.

"You get to make a difference," David said. "You get to change the world. You get to leave your handprint in the local community."

It was welcome praise to the Rotarians, even coming from a member of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on bannergraphic.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Why, oh why, can't the Banner Graphic get the names & position of Matt Headley correct in the picture????

-- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 8:47 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: