INDIANAPOLIS - Loretta Rush, a longtime juvenile court judge who joined the Indiana Supreme Court in 2012, was named the court's first female chief justice Wednesday.
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications chose Rush to succeed Justice Brent Dickson as the high court's leader. Dickson announced in June that he would step down as chief justice but remain an associate justice.
Dickson succeeded Randall Shepard as chief justice in 2012. He faces mandatory retirement when he turns 75 in 2016.
Rush, 56, worked in private practice with a Lafayette law firm before serving 14 years on the Tippecanoe Superior Court. She was appointed the state's 108th Supreme Court justice by former Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012. She is the first woman to serve on the state Supreme Court since Myra Selby stepped down in 1999 after five years as a justice. Selby was the first woman and first black justice to sit on the bench.
While in Tippecanoe County, Rush led a push for better and more uniform protections for Indiana's abused and neglected children. She helped create the county's Court Appointed Special Advocate program, implemented a juvenile drug treatment court and initiated a 24-hour assessment center for youth.
Daniels called her an "invaluable ally" in efforts to bring improved protections to Indiana children who've suffered from "the cruelty of adults" in announcing her appointment.
As a Supreme Court Justice, Rush leads the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana and the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity. She also serves on several panels focused on juvenile justice.
Rush was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and moved to Indiana in 1976. After graduating from Purdue University in 1980, she washed dishes and did other jobs to work her way through the Indiana University School of Law.
In November 1998, before her first term as a Tippecanoe County judge began, a former juvenile client kicked in the front door of Rush's home and tried to kill her husband. Rush hid their children and tried to get help, but she and her husband both were injured and she later had to have surgery. The attacker was convicted of attempted murder and burglary.