Supreme Court was established in 1816 when Indiana became a state.
During territorial days, a General Court of three Judges had served
and they, with the Governor, enacted the laws of the Indiana Territory.
The new Court first sat at Corydon on May 5, 1817, and consisted
of three Judges appointed by the Governor to seven-year terms "if
they should so long behave well."
State House in Indianapolis,
1888 to the present.
Indiana State Library, Indiana Division.
two early decisions, it enforced
the new Constitution's prohibition against slavery and involuntary
servitude, wiping out the last vestige of legal bondage in Indiana.
The seat of State Government was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis,
and the Supreme Court commenced its first term in the new State
Capitol on May 2, 1825.
problems involving principally the bonded debt of the State prompted
the calling of a Constitutional Convention in 1850 at which the
delegates also decided upon a reorganization of the Supreme Court.
By the new Constitution, adopted in 1851, the Judges were made
subject to election by the people, and their number would be "not
less then three, nor more than five judges." Their terms were to
be "for six years, if they so long behave well."
the General Assembly acted to prescribe that four Judges would
serve. Thus, four Supreme Court Judges, representing four geographic
districts but elected by statewide ballot, began their terms on
January 3, 1853. The Court caseload grew to such an extent that
the General Assembly acted to increase the number of Judges to
five in 1872.
business of the Court continued to increase and, in 1881, the General
Assembly authorized the appointment of five Commissioners to assist
the Judges. But this plan was unsatisfactory since litigants complained
that their cases deserved the attention of Judges rather than Commissioners.
It was also in 1881 that, at a special election, an Amendment to
the Constitution was ratified authorizing a more permanent solution.
to that constitutional amendment, the General Assembly in 1891
created an Appellate Court of Indiana consisting of five Judges
elected from five geographic districts. That Court's jurisdiction
was limited to appeals on certain minor classes of cases. Over
the years, the Appellate Court evolved into a panel of eight Judges
who were elected to four-year terms.
In 1970, the Indiana Constitution established the Appellate Court as a Constitutional Court and gave it the name "Court of Appeals of Indiana." The number of judges was also increased to nine. Since that time, the burdgeoning caseload of the Court of Appeals has led the General Assembly to increase the number of judges to twelve in 1978, and to fifteen in 1991. For more information about the Court of Appeals, visit its website at www.in.gov/judiciary/appeals.
For a complete list of all Indiana Supreme Court justices since 1816, including biographies, that you can sort alphabetically, chronologically, or by length of tenure, visit the Courts in the Classroom website.