By Lesley Weidenbener
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mitch Daniels has appointed his former chief counsel – Mark Massa – to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court and replace retiring Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
Mark Massa, 51, is the newest justice on the Indiana Supreme Court. Gov. Mitch Daniels (left) made the announcement Friday afternoon. Photo by Lesley Weidenbener, The Statehouse File.
Massa, 51, who clerked for Shepard and has served as a deputy state and federal prosecutor, will not serve as chief justice. The Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission will make that choice from among the sitting justices.
But Daniels said he’s confident Massa will make his own historic mark on the state’s highest court.
“I’m quite at peace I made the finest choice I could have made,” Daniels said as he introduced Massa in his office Friday afternoon.
In Massa, Daniels said he found a judicial candidate who shows a “proper sense of judicial restraint” and will shy away from making law from the bench.
Massa said he was honored to replace Shepard, for whom he clerked from 1991-1993, and to join a 5-member court that he said has the respect of judges nationally.
“I will strive every day to justify your confidence,” Massa told the governor.
Daniels chose Massa – who will leave his post as executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute – from a list of three names forwarded by the nominating commission. Indiana Appeals Judge Cale Bradford and Jane Seigel, executive director of the Indiana Judicial Center, were the other two finalists.
The appointment means Indiana will remain without a woman on its supreme court. Only two other states have all-male courts.
Indiana hasn’t had a woman on the court since Myra Selby left the bench in 1999 after serving four years. In fact, Selby is the only woman ever to have served on the state’s highest court. She was also the state’s first – but not the last – black justice.
Daniels said he would have liked nothing better than to have appointed a woman to the state’s supreme court and said he has appointed women to the appeals and tax courts. But he said that desire did not trump the importance of choosing the best candidate for the position, which he said as Massa.
Shepard, who chaired the nominating commission that picked the finalists, called Massa “smart and carting and creative.”
“Mark Massa’s tenure on the supreme court will demonstrate that he has the character, mental power, and generosity of heart to serve in ways that will make Indiana a place of great justice,” Shepard said in a statement. “I predict plenty of applause for his service and performance in the years to come.”
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.