Brent E. Dickson steps down as Chief Justice of Indiana

Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson
Brent E. Dickson announced Wednesday he would step down as Chief Justice of Indiana's Supreme Court.

He will continue his role as an Associate Justice on the five-member Supreme Court subject to mandatory retirement effective in July 2016 when he turns 75.

Dickson informed the Judicial Nominating Commission saying, "It has been a great joy and a privilege to have helped continue the Court's tradition of excellence-especially with four hard-working colleagues who are devoted to the law....I am looking forward to being able to spend most of my time in legal research, deciding cases, and writing opinions."

Dickson became Chief Justice in May 2012 after serving as Acting Chief Justice following the retirement of Randall T. Shepard. The Commission voted for Dickson - who had served on the Court for 26 years as an Associate Justice - to become Chief Justice effective immediately. A public investiture ceremony took place in August 2012.

Appointed to the Court in 1986 as the 100th Justice, Dickson had been urged to accept the position to provide stability and continuity to the judicial branch.

Dickson explained, "Knowing that my tenure as Chief Justice was limited, each Associate Justice has actively participated in much of the administrative responsibilities and decisions of the office of Chief Justice....The time is right for this transition. The Court and state will be well served when one of my colleagues is selected as the next Chief Justice."

According to the Indiana Constitution, the seven-member Judicial Nominating Commission is tasked with selecting a Chief Justice for a five-year term. The Commission is chaired by Chief Justice Dickson and includes three attorneys elected by their peers and three citizens, two appointed by Governor Pence and one appointed by Governor Daniels.

The Commission plans to invite the other members of the current Court - Justices Robert Rucker, Steven David, Mark Massa and Loretta Rush - to meet with them on August 6 about the role of Chief Justice. The session will be open to the public and press.

Afterward, the Commission will deliberate in an executive session. It will reconvene in public to announce its selection of the next Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Dickson expects to step down from his leadership role sometime before September 1. Since he will remain on the Court, the Commission will not need to fill a vacancy.

Among the major initiatives during his tenure as Chief Justice, Dickson expanded efforts to bring the Court's trial court technology system to all Indiana courts, revitalized the use of volunteer attorneys to provide civil legal aid to the needy, and initiated the reform of Indiana's pre-trial release system to enhance public safety, reduce taxpayer expense, and provide greater fairness.