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Rush to seek retention, Indiana chief justice post

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush discusses her decision to seek another term leading the court. (Photo by Mia Hilkowitz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

INDIANAPOLIS (INDIANA CAPITAL CHRONICLE) — Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush said Tuesday she will seek retention to the bench this fall, and also reappointment as chief justice.

She has been on state’s highest court since 2012 after being appointed by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. She was last retained by voters in 2014, but she has another vote coming Nov. 5.

“This is an interesting time … institutional stability is important,” Rush told the Capital Chronicle on Tuesday. “Public trust and confidence is our main currency. I just really looked at it and thought, ‘you know, I can do it.’ I’ll give it my best.”

The Judicial Nominating Commission named Rush Indiana’s first female chief justice in August 2014, and she was reappointed in 2019. As chief justice, she is responsible for supervising Indiana’s judicial branch. This supervision includes working with the state legislature to secure funding and allocate resources, as well as overseeing a multi-agency central administrative office that handles everything from caseload measures and technology updates to the admission and discipline of lawyers.

The commission of Hoosiers will ultimately decide Aug. 21 whether Rush remains chief justice. A news release said the four other members of the court support her nomination.

Prior to her appointment, Rush spent 15 years at a Lafayette law firm and was elected three times to serve as Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge. She earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and her law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, both with honors. She is married to Jim Rush with four children and five grandchildren.

Rush sent a note to court staff Tuesday morning saying “we’ve worked together to launch pretrial and problem-solving court initiatives, implement and finalize our statewide electronic filing and unified case management systems, sustain our court system through a global pandemic, overhaul our administrative agency structure, advance causes to improve access to justice for all, reshape the approach to addressing behavioral health and substance use disorders for court participants, and so much more.”

She said in the statement there is more work to be done, including addressing the state’s attorney shortage, remaining vigilant in confronting the drug crisis and ensuring court officers and staff are protected against increasingly common threats of violence.

“People say oh, we don’t need attorneys, you know, lots of attorney jokes, until you need an attorney,” Rush said, noting criminal cases, guardianships, property rights disputes and more come to the courts.

She also said she hopes to leverage the use of artificial intelligence in the future for legal research, interpreters and more.

“Above all, we must always endeavor to promote our most sacred resource: trust and confidence in our courts. Your work is critical not only to maintaining that trust and confidence but also to defending the rule of law and the way of life we enjoy as free people,” Rush said. “I continue to be inspired by your efforts and humbled by your service. Whatever comes next, I look forward to continuing our work together.”