Pharos-Tribune

State News

September 16, 2012

Maureen Hayden: Newest justice noteworthy for role in protecting children

INDIANAPOLIS — Finally. That was the word uttered time and again, with an exclamation point for emphasis, late last week when Gov. Mitch Daniels announced he’d picked a woman to sit on what’s been the all-male Indiana Supreme Court.

Daniels’ decision to appoint Tippecanoe County Judge Loretta Rush to the state’s high court is history-making for a state with a big gender gap in its judiciary. Rush is only the second woman to sit on the court in its nearly 200-year history.  

Much has been and will be made of the fact that Rush is a woman. It should be. There is disproportionately low number of women on the bench in our lower courts as well: Only about 20 percent of the state trial court judges are women.

But just as Daniels’ prior two selections for the top court — Mark Massa and Steve David — are more than just their gender, Rush should be noteworthy for her work as well.

Those who know her best praise her as for her work as a juvenile court judge who has called on her community to help her help their most vulnerable and the most troubled children. She’s reached out to schools, churches, community and business groups — to anyone she could find — to make the case that it’s a shared responsibility to make sure no child is left behind.

Her “judicial activism” — in the best sense of the phrase — is even more compelling given a harrowing personal experience. In November 1998, a deeply troubled young man kicked open the door of her home and tried to kill her husband. She suffered injuries while protecting the couple’s three children.

Rush knew the assailant: A decade earlier, as a lawyer in private practice, she was appointed by the court to act as his legal advocate — what’s called a guardian ad litem. At the time, he was only 14 but had suffered through a lifetime of misery — a ward of the court since the age of 2, followed by years of failed placements in homes and mental health facilities. He ended up spending the last part of his teenage years incarcerated.

In her application to be considered for Indiana Supreme Court, Rush cited that experience as one of the most significant legal matters ever entrusted to her.

Here is some of what she wrote about how that searing experience shaped her later role as a judge: “I look at the children that find themselves in our court system and understand the long-standing toll such things as child abuse, neglect and untreated mental health can have on their adult lives ... .

“I look at all the parties and participants involved with any case, appreciate what they bring into the courtroom and understand that it is often difficult and intimidating for witnesses and participants to testify before us as judges. I learned that mentors and volunteers working with the juvenile courts are critical ... .

“Finally,” she added, “my family’s ordeal heightened my resolve that our judicial system must always strive to earn the trust of the public and remain sensitive to, and protect the rights of all that come before us.”

Those words seem more insightful than just saying that our newest justice is a woman.  

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can  be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • NWS-PT040714 Hogsett mug.jpg The job? Guarding public trust INDIANAPOLIS -- Joe Hogsett was being vetted for the job of U.S. Attorney four years ago when he asked a federal judge for advice. That judge observed that there hadn't been a high-profile public corruption case in the southern district of Indiana s

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flood Insurance Indiana [Duplicate] Indiana braces for flood insurance subsidy changes INDIANAPOLIS -- Thousands of Indiana homeowners who live in flood-prone neighborhoods are bracing for insurance premium increases, despite Congress' latest fix for the government's debt-saddled flood insurance program. More than 13,300 Indiana homeow

    March 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-PT031714 Wolkins mug.jpg Zooming through: Rules on mo-peds headed to governor's desk INDIANAPOLIS -- Rep. Dave Wolkins could only oppose mo-ped regulations for so long, as more bikes zipped along the roads and were involved in an increasing number of accidents. So Wolkins -- who spent five years fighting to keep Indiana among the few

    March 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prison inmates part of new Legion post TERRE HAUTE -- Wearing khaki-colored matching uniforms, more than 20 veterans inside a maximum-security prison stood tall to salute the flag of the United States at an event that welcomed them as new American Legion members. These men, inmates at the

    March 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT031414 beer alcohol.jpg Old ban on beer booze level may be tapped out INDIANAPOLIS -- Loughmiller's Pub across from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern's menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regul

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana House leader: Tax, preschool deals near INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican leaders working on a series of last-minute compromises on top-tier issues of tax cuts, preschool and road funding announced Tuesday they were close to final agreements. "I say agreement in principle because we still have to

    March 12, 2014

  • Same-sex couples sue state over ban LOUISVILLE -- Erin Brock says she's prepared to fight to have her love legally recognized by the state of Indiana. Brock and her fiancé Melissa Love share a home and children in Jeffersonville and are one of four same-sex couples from Southern Indian

    March 10, 2014

  • Ivy Tech's $83M wish list meets skeptical audience INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ivy Tech Community College says it needs $83 million more from the state so it can double its enrollment and graduation rates and help the state meet its own goal of increasing the number of Indiana residents with post-high-schoo

    March 9, 2014

  • Bill ends automatic license suspensions for many crimes INDIANAPOLIS -- Unpaid parking fines, falling behind on child support, drunken driving: So many offenses trigger a suspended driver's license in Indiana that more than a half-million Hoosiers have lost their driving privileges. In fact, driving on a

    March 7, 2014

  • NWS-PT030314 Zionsville bus.jpg Rolling billboards: Legislation may create pilot program INDIANAPOLIS — Cash hungry schools may start selling ads on the sides of buses to make up millions of dollars lost because of property tax caps. Legislation moving through the General Assembly would create a pilot program allowing a few districts to

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.