- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Brent E. Dickson, the second-longest-serving Indiana justice in history, announced Monday that he’ll retire next spring before reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age of 75.

Dickson, who replaced Justice Dixon Prentice on the court in January 1986 after Prentice retired, will turn 75 in July. The precise date of Dickson’s retirement hasn’t been set, but he intends to leave prior to summer 2016, the court said in a statement.

Dickson was appointed to the state’s high court by Republican Gov. Robert D. Orr after spending the previous 17 years as a general practice lawyer in Lafayette. Dickson said in the court’s statement that he had only applied for the opening on the court at “the urging of others.”

“Three decades later I am immensely gratified to have been able to serve the citizens of Indiana for so many years,” he said.

Dickson’s departure will give Republican Gov. Mike Pence his first appointment to the state’s high court. Pence praised Dickson on Monday, saying the Gary native’s “intellect and opinions have shaped Indiana law and judicial practice for the benefit of all Hoosiers.”

“Upon his retirement, Justice Dickson will leave behind a body of law skillfully crafted by his careful reading of the Indiana and United States constitutions and his commitment to the rule of law,” the governor said in a statement.

Dickson has authored 884 civil and criminal opinions during his time on the bench. He also served as the court’s chief justice for more than two years.

Dickson was chosen for that post after longtime Chief Justice Randall Shepard stepped down in March 2012. Dickson announced in June 2014 that he would step down as chief justice.

Justice Loretta Rush became chief justice two months later after she was chosen by the Judicial Nominating Commission to become Indiana’s first female chief justice.

That seven-member commission will search for a successor to fill Dickson’s vacancy and after a series of interviews will recommend three finalists for Pence to choose from. Applications are expected to be posted Thursday on the court’s website.

Dickson, who will mark 30 years on the court in January, is the second-longest-serving justice in the court’s history. Indiana’s longest-serving justice was 19th century Justice Isaac Blackford, who served on the bench for more than 35 years.

Dickson is a 1964 graduate of Purdue University and a 1968 graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

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