Valparaiso University Law School Honors Retiring Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Rucker

On Thursday, March 9, the Indiana Supreme Court gathered in Gary, Indiana for oral arguments; one of the final arguments Justice Robert D. Rucker will hear as a Supreme Court justice. Justice Rucker (’76) is Indiana’s 105th Supreme Court Justice, and recently announced that he is stepping down in spring 2017 after 26 years on the bench. Justice Rucker grew up in Gary and practiced in the community before being appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1991. Thursday’s oral arguments were held at Justice Rucker’s high school alma mater of Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy.

(L to R) Justice Randall Shephard, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler, Justice Robert Rucker, Valparaiso University Law School Dean Andrea Lyon, Former Justice Frank Sullivan.

During his judicial career, he has authored 1,235 civil and criminal opinions. He has served as vice-chair of the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education, a member of the board of directors of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the board of directors of the Northwest Indiana Legal Services Organization, and as chair of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association.

Justice Rucker was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Frank O’Bannon in 1999. During his tenure, he has served with eight other justices. Prior to his Supreme Court appointment, he served on the Indiana Court of Appeals having been appointed by Governor Evan Bayh in 1991. While on the Court of Appeals, he served with 23 other judges and was the first African American to serve on an Indiana appellate court.

Following the oral arguments, the Lake County Bar Association, the Kimbrough Bar Association and the Women Lawyers Association hosted a luncheon in Merrillville, Indiana. About 150 attended the luncheon, including retired Chief Justice Randall Shepard, retired Justices Frank Sullivan and Brent Dickson, and Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May. The luncheon honored Justice Rucker and thanked him, the entire Indiana Supreme Court, its staff, and the attorneys presenting the case.

Indiana Supreme Court (L to R): Justice Steven David, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Justice Robert Rucker, Justice Geoffrey Slaughter, Justice Mark Massa.

Later that evening, Valparaiso University Law School hosted a reception to honor Justice Rucker, who graduated from the school in 1976. The event was also for the Indiana State Bar Association’s Leadership Development Academy. Over 125 Justices, attorneys, alumni, and honored guests were in attendance.

“I’m surprised by how blessed my life is. It is an unlikely story. A boy from Gary, who served in the military who later had the privilege to serve on the Supreme Court of the State. I have been very blessed in my career.”

“Justice Rucker is one of Valparaiso University Law School’s most respected alumni and people want to thank him for his service,” said Vanessa Verner, associate director of alumni relations for the law school. In 2015, Valparaiso University Law School also named a lecture series after Justice Rucker.