LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Bob Reiling and Jerry Withered had a feeling their former law partner would be named chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
It was the same feeling they had in September 2012, when Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Loretta Rush to serve on the state’s highest court.
“Everything she does, she does well,” Reiling told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/1kKHutm ). “She is a dynamic person. When she was on the juvenile court in Tippecanoe County she brought energy and new ideas, and she will do the same thing at the Supreme Court.”
Rush’s career began in 1983 when she was hired as an associate at the Lafayette law firm of Dickson, Reiling, Teder and Withered.
She became a partner there in 1987, then in 1997 opened a general practice firm, where she focused on civil matters, primarily concerning children and family issues.
That work built a foundation for her election, and re-election as judge of Tippecanoe Superior Court 3, which handles juvenile issues.
Rush earned a reputation for treating people with respect, handing down fair decisions and implementing technology to better manage her caseload.
That reputation spread across the state when she was a chairwoman of the Indiana Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee.
“From what I observed, Justice Rush is extraordinarily well organized, able to handle a variety of responsibilities and accomplish what she needs to accomplish,” Withered said.
On Wednesday, excitement filled the courthouse where for 14 years Rush was a judge.
“She will make a magnificent chief justice,” Superior Court 5 Judge Les Meade said.
“It’s incredible to think that in two years she’s become the spokesperson and leader of all the judges in the state of Indiana,” said Randy Williams, judge of Superior Court 1.
Daniels, now president of Purdue University, issued the following statement about Rush’s elevation to chief justice.
“With four stellar candidates to consider, the committee could not have gone wrong, but they also could not have done better. Every Hoosier has reason to celebrate this outstanding choice; I know I am.”
The celebration will not end soon in Tippecanoe County.
Even more remarkable than the fact that Rush is the state’s first female chief justice is the notion that consecutive chief justices came from the same law firm.
Rush will succeed Brent Dickson, who is stepping down after serving two years as chief justice. He will concentrate on legal research and writing until he reaches the mandatory retirement age for justices, 75, in July 2016.
Dickson was a senior partner when the Lafayette law firm hired Rush after she received her law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington and passed the state bar exam.
“I think it speaks to the quality of our judicial and bar association members,” County Clerk Christa Coffey said.
Reiling said he is still absorbing the news.
“We’ve had two chief justices come from our law firm,” he said. “I pinch myself when I think about that.”
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com