Dedicated to Justice, Integrity, and Civility: Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard

Commencement Dinner
Federal Room
Indiana Memorial Union
Bloomington, Indiana
December 16, 2011

Toast Before Dinner

I am delighted to welcome you all to this evening of celebration in honor of our distinguished guest Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. We will have more formal remarks a little later in the evening.

Now would you please join me in raising your glasses to the remarkable accomplishments of Chief Justice Shepard, who has been described as a “shining star of the American Justice system” and represents the highest levels of professionalism, integrity, and, above all, justice.

To Chief Justice Shepard.

Please enjoy your meal.

Introducing Chief Justice Shepard 

Again, thank you all for coming this evening.

When Indiana Chief Justice Randy Shepard announced his retirement earlier this month, the response was overwhelming:  praise for his service to the state of Indiana, praise for his commitment to justice, praise for his dedication to legal education. One of the most eloquent statements about Judge Shepard came from Governor Mitch Daniels, who said, “Most Hoosiers recognize the historic place Randy Shepard will always hold in Indiana judicial history. What fewer people may know is there is no more nationally respected Supreme Court judge in any state in America, and this has been so for a very long time.”1

Appointed to Indiana’s Supreme Court in 1985 by Governor Robert Orr, Justice Shepard was named the state of Indiana’s 99th chief justice eighteen months later. He was then the youngest chief justice in the nation. Currently, he is the nation’s longest-serving leader of a state’s high court.

A seventh-generation Hoosier, Justice Shepard is an Evansville native. He reached the Indiana high court having graduated from Princeton University and earning his law degree from Yale University. He also earned a master of laws degree in judicial process from the University of Virginia. 

In addition to writing more than 890 majority opinions for the Indiana Supreme Court, Justice Shepard has been actively engaged in the teaching and research enterprise. He has taught and lectured at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and at the IU Maurer School of Law in Bloomington and the IU McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He has also published more than 65 law review articles in 30 different journals. 

Justice Shepard’s leadership extends through his service to his profession. Among his national leadership roles, he has served as President of the Conference of Chief Justices and the National Center for State Courts, Chair of the Appellate Judges Conference of the American Bar Association, and Chair of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. In 2006, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Justice Shepard to serve on the U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee of Civil Rules, the only state court justice to receive such an appointment. 

He also served for over a decade as a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has served as chair of Indiana Landmarks. Both of these positions reflect his deep interest in understanding and preserving history.

In 2007, Governor Daniels appointed Justice Shepard and Joe Kernan to co-chair the Commission on Local Government Reform. For their efforts, both were honored as Government Leaders of the Year in 2008. 

Justice Shepard’s honors continue, coming from the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, the League of Women Voters, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. He received the A. Leon Higginbotham Award from the National Black Law Students Association; the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America; and the Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History.

Of course, I could continue, but these examples already suggest the great depth and breadth of Justice Shepard’s interests and expertise.

I am delighted that Justice Shepard has joined us this evening and will serve as the 2011 Winter Commencement speaker tomorrow. I think our graduating students and all of us here agree with the Honorable John G. Baker, Chief Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals who said of Chief Justice Shepard that “[he] makes those of us from Indiana proud to be Hoosiers.”2


Thank you all for coming this evening, and I look forward to seeing you at tomorrow’s commencement ceremony.

Source Notes

  1. Bradner, Eric. “Chief Justice Randall Shepard Will Retire from Indiana Supreme Court.” Evansville Courier and Press Website. Posted 7 Dec. 2011. Accessed 11 Dec. 2011.
  2. “Chief Justice Randall Shepard to Receive American Judicature Society Award.” The Kokomo Perspective  8 Dec. 2009. Accessed 8 Dec. 2011.