Hundreds Gather at Statehouse to Celebrate Retiring Justice Steven David

By Whitney Downard

More than 200 people gathered Tuesday to commemorate the retirement of Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, celebrating the justice’s sense of humor and service as the 106th justice on the state’s highest court.

The crowd frequently broke out into laughter as judicial leaders recognized his achievements, including when David chimed in during a speech to say, “I’m not dying today!”

“You told us (law clerks) to take the high road, act with integrity and always respect each other and our values,” said Justin Forkner, a former law clerk to David and current chief administrative officer of the Indiana Supreme Court. “And that we should take our work seriously, but we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”

David retires on Aug. 31, nearly 12 years after Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed him to the bench in 2010.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush recalled their thousands of hours together, especially his treatment of lawyers appearing before the court.

“He’d always start a question with, ‘Help me understand…’ Which I thought was such a nice way to get attorneys to (explain themselves),” Rush said.

Prior to his position on the Supreme Court, David was an elected trial court judge in Boone County for 15 years.

As a judge overseeing civil, criminal, family and juvenile cases, he testified before the General Assembly on juvenile law and advocated for mental health services for children. He previously won the Robert Kinsey Award as the most outstanding Juvenile Court Judge in Indiana and is the co-chair for the state’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

David also served in the military for 28 years as part of the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, including two post-9/11 tours in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Due to his service, David received the Defense Superior Service Award, the third-highest non-combat medal in the country.

He retired from the military in 2010 as a Colonel.

David credited the military for getting him to attend law school, noting that he was the first college graduate in his family and first lawyer.

“Now there are four lawyers in my family and I’m the worst of the four,” David joked. “I’m not even the best lawyer in my house.”

An active runner who has hiked the Grand Canyon three times, David said he will hike Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, next year with his wife.

Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Derek Molter to succeed David on June 10. Molter previously served as a judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals.

On his successor, David said, “The Indiana Supreme Court isn’t just going to be different, it’s going to be better.”

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