- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis attorney Geoffrey Slaughter, tapped to become the newest member of the Indiana Supreme Court, will “serve the people of Indiana with great distinction,” Gov. Mike Pence said Monday in announcing Slaughter as his pick to fill a vacancy on the state’s highest court.

Pence said it wasn’t easy choosing the 53-year-old Slaughter to succeed the recently retired Justice Brent Dickson, who stepped down after more than 30 years on the bench before reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age of 75 in July.

The governor said Slaughter and the two other finalists recommended to him by the Indiana Judicial Nomination Commission - St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler and Boone Superior Court Judge Matthew Kincaid- represented “extraordinary talent.”

Pence cited Slaughter’s depth of understanding of the Constitution and antitrust law as reasons he chose the Lake County native for the court.

But he said Slaughter also shares some of the same qualities Dickson was praised for at his April 29 retirement ceremony, including his intellect, his character, his disposition and his demeanor.

“Throughout his nearly 30-year legal career, Geoff has demonstrated a first-rate legal intellect, an unparalleled understanding of the Constitution and antitrust law and remarkable ability to think and write clearly on complex legal issues,” Pence said. “He will serve the people of Indiana with great distinction.”

The governor revealed his pick at a Statehouse news conference attended by the court’s four other members, Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justices Robert Rucker, Steven David and Mark Massa. Other guests included former Justice Frank Sullivan Jr.

Slaughter said he was “flattered, humbled and flabbergasted” when Pence called him last Friday to tell him he’d chosen him to serve on the state’s highest court, and quickly accepted the offer. Slaughter said he expects to wrap up his Indianapolis law practice and join the court in about four to six weeks.

After Pence’s announcement, Slaughter was asked if becoming a state Supreme Court justice was his greatest dream.

“In my fondest dreams I would be playing first base for the Cubs, but this is a very close second,” he said. “My grandfather was a lawyer, I grew in a legal family but I never believed that I’d have an opportunity to serve on our state’s highest court.”

Slaughter was a finalist for the state Supreme Court in 2012, when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels tapped Loretta Rush for the bench.

Slaughter was joined at Monday’s announcement by his wife of 15 years, Julie Slaughter, who’s also an attorney. She said she’s proud of her husband and said he would “serve the people of Indiana very well.”

Twenty-nine people applied for a chance to succeed Dickson. The nominating commission chose 15 semifinalists before selecting as Slaughter, Hostetler and Kincaid as the three finalists.

Slaughter graduated in 1989 from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. After a two-year stint as a law clerk for a federal judge, he joined a Chicago law firm and worked there for five years.

From 1995 to 2001, Slaughter was special counsel to Indiana’s attorney general’s office. He’s been a partner since 2001 with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Indianapolis, handing securities-fraud claims, environmental disputes, antitrust class actions and other cases.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma hired Slaughter, rather than use the state attorney general’s office, to defend against a lawsuit filed by advocacy groups seeking emails between GOP Rep. Eric Koch of Bedford and utility companies. The groups sought the emails following an unsuccessful push last year by Koch, the chairman of the House Energy Committee, to cut payments for excess electricity generated by home solar power systems.

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