Indiana News

Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan Resigning

19-year veteran will teach at IUPUI law school starting August 22

4/2/2012

Just hours after the Indiana Supreme Court officially filled one vacancy, another justice has announced he's resigning.

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Justice Frank Sullivan will step down by the end of August to teach business and finance law at I-U-P-U-I's law school. Sullivan was Governor Evan Bayh's budget director and top fiscal adviser before Bayh appointed him to the court in 1993.

Sullivan was an adjunct professor at the school from 2007 to 2009. He says he began thinking about leaving the court a couple of years ago.

"I got to thinking that I was reaching an age where if I was going to do one more big thing before retiring, I needed to get about it," Sullivan says.

Sullivan, 62, says he asked about a possible teaching position at I-U-P-U-I in September. Dean Gary Roberts says the faculty unanimously extended an offer in February, which Sullivan accepted last week.

Roberts says it's not Sullivan's resume alone, but his reputation as a "thinker and scholar" that makes him an asset to the school. He says he's thrilled to have him on board.

Sullivan's departure will give Governor Daniels his third appointment to the court in two years. It'll be the first time the court's makeup has included three appointees of the same governor since 1999, the end of a three-year run for Bayh appointees Sullivan, Theodore Boehm and Myra Selby.

The seven-member Judicial Nominating Commission will interview applicants and send Daniels the names of three finalists.

Selby is the only woman ever to serve on the court. Women have been among the finalists for seven of the last eight vacancies -- all three finalists were women the year Selby was appointed. Sullivan says there probably should be a woman on the court, and says he'd be "delighted" if a woman is named to replace him. But he adds there are "a lot of ifs," including the credentials of the other applicants, the number and qualifications of women who apply, and what he suggests is a too-rapid interview process that requires quick decisions on whether to open up one's entire history to the commission's background check.

And Sullivan notes the fact Indiana's Supreme Court has just five seats -- three of which haven't changed hands for 19 years -- means opportunities are limited.

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