Longtime Indiana jurist Randall Shepard to receive ABA Marshall Award

Randall Terry Shepard, the longest-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of Indiana, is the recipient of the award named for the longest-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Shepard, now retired and serving as a senior judge for the Court of Appeals for Indiana, was awarded the 2015 John Marshall Award, presented annually by the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. Shepard will be honored on July 31 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Shepard’s 25 years as chief justice was highlighted by his being the force behind rules of resolution that help citizens avoid litigation, instructions that allow jurors to be more involved in the judicial process, the expansion of translation services in trial courts, a scholarship program for minority law students and a statewide pro bono model.

“The John Marshall Award Selection Committee was very impressed by Chief Justice Shepard’s demonstrated commitment to the legal profession, legal education and the justice system. We unanimously agreed that his lifetime of service embodied the ideals of this prestigious award and are excited to bestow the award upon such a worthy individual,” said North Carolina Chief Justice Mark Martin, chair of the selection committee.

Among Shepard’s numerous honors and activities are his serving as chair of the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, receiving the Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence, being elected president of the Conference of Chief Justices, and chairing the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

“That the ABA would honor me in the name of John Marshall himself is both heart-warming and exciting,” Shepard said.  “As late as law school, it had never occurred to me that I might become a judge.   It has turned out to be a career full of chances to do right, build a better system of justices, and contribute to the success of the American experiment.  I’m grateful to the many lawyers and judges with whom I’ve been privileged to collaborate, from whom I’ve learned so much.”

Born in 1946 to a seventh-generation Indiana family, Shepard grew up in Evansville. He graduated cum laude from Princeton University, received his law degree from the Yale Law School in 1972 (where he has also taught), and earned an LL.M. from the University of Virginia. After nonlegal public service positions and service as a local and county judge, Shepard was named Indiana’s 99th Supreme Court justice in 1985. He became chief justice two years later.

The ABA established the John Marshall Award in 2001 to recognize individuals who have made a positive national impact on the justice system. Eligibility is open to any individual responsible for extraordinary improvement to the administration of justice in the categories of judicial independence, justice system reform or public awareness about the justice system. Past recipients include Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the late former U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. The award is named for the fourth chief justice of the United States, who served for 34 years and is credited with establishing the independence of the judiciary and enhancing its moral authority.