Considering the primary duty of a Supreme Court justice is to review the decisions of lower courts, how often trial judges have been overturned on appeal is one way to gauge the quality of their skills. By this measurement, Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull fares well.
Of the 22 applicants for the seat on the Indiana Supreme Court, Gull is among seven trial court judges. Joel Schumm, a law professor at the Indiana University-Robert H. McKinney School of Law, analyzed the appeals records of those seven judges for the Indiana Law Blog, which published the results last week.
Of the seven judges, Gull has seen far more cases appealed – 201 – mostly due to her years of service on the bench and heavy caseload. Only one other trial court judge who is a candidate for the state’s high court had more than 100 appeals – Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steve Nation with 115.
Schumm found that Gull had been overturned on appeal just 19 times – meaning the higher courts agreed with her 90.55 percent of the time. The only other judge with a better percentage was Tippecanoe Superior Court Judge Loretta Rush, who was reversed only 7.27 percent of the time. But that was based on just 55 appeals. Nation, on the other hand, was reversed 36 times – nearly twice as many cases as Gull – or 31.3 percent of the appeals.
One case that saw Gull overturned was the death sentence of Joseph Corcoran, a case that has perplexed both the state and federal courts for the past 12 years. Though overturned, the appeal essentially resulted in Gull re-writing her basis for imposing the death penalty, which the state’s high court later affirmed.
Could the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act affect the case regarding Indiana’s move to cut Planned Parenthood off from Medicaid money?
Jessica Mason Pieklo, a Minneapolis attorney who has a background in both constitutional and health care law, points out that Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision ruled that the federal government cannot force states to expand Medicaid by threatening to withhold Medicaid funding.
Earlier this month, an administrative hearing officer in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled that Indiana could not end Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood because nothing in the law allows states to base funding decisions on other services a provider offers. But the Roberts opinion could form the basis of an argument that the federal government can’t coerce a state into funding Planned Parenthood by threatening to withhold all of that state’s federal Medicaid money, Pieklo writes for RH Reality Check, a website that advocates reproductive and sexual health rights.