Randall Shepard, the longest-serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indiana, will be the speaker and honorary degree recipient at Butler University Winter 2016 Commencement on Saturday, December 17, in Clowes Memorial Hall, beginning at 10:00 AM.
“We are pleased to have Justice Shepard speak to our graduates,” Butler University President James M. Danko said. “In choosing honorary degree recipients, Butler University strives to invite individuals whose life and work reflect Butler University’s core values and whose message can positively impact our students through sharing their insights and life lessons. Justice Shepard’s many accomplishments provide an inspirational example for all Butler students, parents, faculty, and staff.”
Throughout his distinguished career, Shepard strived to make the judicial system simpler and fairer for all. He is credited with modernizing Indiana’s courts, instituting rules to help citizens avoid litigation, implementing easy-to-understand jury instructions, expanding translation services in trial courts, and creating a scholarship program for minority law students. He also led efforts to webcast the Indiana Supreme Court’s oral arguments.
In 2015, he received the American Bar Association’s John Marshall Award, named after the longest-serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, for his commitment to the legal profession, legal education, and the justice system.
Shepard was appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court by then-Governor Robert D. Orr in 1985 at the age of 38. He became Chief Justice of Indiana in March 1987 and retired from the Court in March 2012, at which point he was the longest-serving Chief Justice in Indiana history and the senior Chief Justice in the country’s state supreme courts.
An Evansville native and seventh-generation Hoosier, Shepard started his judicial career as Judge of the Vanderburgh Superior Court in 1980. He graduated from Princeton University cum laude and from the Yale Law School. He earned a Master of Laws degree in the judicial process from the University of Virginia.
When Justice Shepard retired in 2012, he was lauded by both sides of the aisle for his evenhandedness. Former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar wrote of Shepard, “The experience and intellect with which you presided over the Indiana judicial system led others in our communities and at the federal level to seek your leadership and talents.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “Your tenure has been simply remarkable. You have been an inspiration for so many judges across the country and, of course, the greatest of public servants for Hoosiers.”