Justice Dickson and the Development of Indiana Civil Tort Law

by Nate Moyer, 2L Note Candidate

Last spring, Justice Brent Dickson retired from the Indiana Supreme Court. [http://wishtv.com/2016/04/29/justice-dickson-hailed-for-his-civility-grace-at-retirement/]. Justice Dickson served Indiana for thirty years, and his retirement will mark the end for Professional Photoone of Indiana’s longest Supreme Court tenures. Governor Robert Orr appointed Justice Dickson to Indiana’s highest court in 1986. Since that time, Justice Dickson has contributed an extensive amount of legal opinions. Further, from 2012 to 2014, Dickson presided over the Court as Chief Justice. [http://www.in.gov/judiciary/4047.htm]. He was then stepped-down from Chief Justice, a position that is now held by Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush.

Justice Dickson was viewed as a pragmatic and wise judge who valued the citizen’s right to a fair and open trial. As a send-off for the esteemed Justice, Roger Pardieck, Karen Davis and Maggie Smith’s article in the Indiana Law Review examines Dickson’s methodology and legal analysis for civil suits. Justice Dickson’s Civil Tort Law Jurisprudence, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 103 (2016) (available at https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/ilr/pdf/vol50p103.pdf). The article analyzes Dickson’s opinions in the landmark decisions of Jarboe v. Landmark Community Newspapers of Indiana, and Myers v. Crouse-Hinds Division of Cooper Industries. In Jarboe v. Landmark Community Newspapers of Indiana, the Justice’s opinion focused on how summary judgment may hastily deny a person’s day in court. In Myers v. Crouse-Hinds Division of Cooper Industries, the Justice respected the doctrine of stare decisis, despite his own misgivings. Dickson’s jurisprudence did not always carry the day, however, and therefore this article also covers his dissents in Allied Signal v. Ott, and McIntosh v. Melroe. The purpose of this is to demonstrate how Justice Dickson would strictly adhere to not only his own principles, but also the Indiana Constitution.

Prior to being appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court, Justice Dickson was an attorney working in private practice. Justice Dickson graduated from the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis in 1968. After his retirement, Dickson intends to still assist with court administration, although he will hear no cases. [http://www.theindianalawyer.com/justice-brent-dickson-announces-retirement/PARAMS/article/38676]. This past June, Governor Mike Pence appointed Geoffery G. Slaughter to Indiana’s highest court as Dickson’s successor. Indiana Supreme Court Justices are required to retire by the age of seventy-five.


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