I’ve pondered this question in the past: How is it decided who writes the opinion on a case before the Supreme Court (Indiana, in this case)? Well, there’s no better way to find out than ask Indiana’s chief justice, Loretta Rush.
Her response: “Before we vote on a case, we talk about it several times. Then we decide where the majority lies. We say, ‘Who would like to write on this?’ If a couple of people would like to write and everything else (workloads and other responsibilities) is the same, we do something very scientific – we flip.”
In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the justices offered 85 opinions (71 majority and 14 non-majority). Most (84%) were unanimous – either 5-0 or 4-0 decisions. The majority opinion totals by justice: Rush and Stephen David, 11 each; Mark Massa, 10; Geoffrey Slaughter, 8; and Christopher Goff, 6.
Rush, honored as the Indiana Chamber’s 2018 Government Leader of the Year, foresees additional steps in the making the courts more accessible so people don’t have to miss work. As a trial court judge in Tippecanoe County, she recalls having night court once a week.
Asked what might keep her up at night or at least give her some pause, Rush concludes: “The nature of the cases and what we see there, is always a worry. It might be a financial worry with regard to keeping a program going. It might be a case I’m struggling with … where does the law take us on this? A lot of the cases that come before us have some pretty challenging issues associated with them. I’m worrying about our trial court judges, all the people in the justice system. I worry about the trauma they go through and witness on a regular basis. That takes a toll on them.”