Randall T. Shepard ’69 was just 38 years old when he was appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court in 1985, and when he was elevated to chief justice less than two years later, he became the youngest state chief justice in the United States. As Shepard approaches retirement next week, he is now Indiana’s longest-serving chief justice, and according to supporters in the Hoosier state, the distinguished jurist will be remembered for leaving a lasting impression during his time in office.
Shepard’s assessment of his work, outlined in the State of Judiciary address delivered in January, included pride in building a collegial atmosphere among the Indiana courts. He also earned distinction for his expertise in judicial ethics, receiving the 2009 Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence, a national honor presented by the American Judicature Society. Under Shepard’s guidance, the Indiana courts have increased transparency, allowing media cameras and webcasts in the appellate courts and beginning a pilot project to explore cameras in trial courtrooms. (The Hoosier State Press Association praised both measures.) Away from the court, he co-chaired a statewide commission on local government reform and a recent research project called Policy Choices for Indiana’s Future.
Shepard received a fond farewell from fellow Princetonian Mitch Daniels ’71, Indiana’s Republican governor, during the State of the State address. Daniels thanked Shepard “for a quarter century of fairness, firmness, and farsightedness on our highest bench.”
The same week, as Shepard delivered his final State of the Judiciary address, The Evansville Courier reported that he “appeared emotional” as he reached a conclusion that summarized his career: “Could there be a better cause, a more worthwhile way to ‘spend and be spent’ in life, than working toward greater justice?”
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