Anderson University alum Pyle receives historic appointment to bench

Mon, 2009-10-05 16:22 -- univcomm
October 5, 2009

A man whose legal experience ranges from enforcing the law as a state trooper to trying criminal suspects as a deputy prosecutor has been named Madison County Circuit Court judge.

pyleRudolph “Rudy” R. Pyle III, 39, was appointed Sunday by Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill the vacancy created last month by the resignation of Judge Fredrick R. Spencer. Pyle becomes Madison County’s first black judge.

“I first thank God for blessing me with this opportunity and thank the governor for having the confidence in me to be successful in this important post,” Pyle said Sunday. “I’m very honored and very humbled.”

Pyle said he didn’t feel a burden with his selection as the county’s first black judge. “It’s actually a moment that everyone in Madison County can be proud of. Here we have the first African-American judge in 2009. We as a community have come this far.”

Daniels’ spokesman Brad Rateike noted Pyle’s education and history in announcing the appointment.

“Rudy Pyle’s devotion to public service and diverse range of real world and academic experience show he has the necessary traits to be a great judge,” Rateike said in a statement. “The governor is confident he will bring new energy to the bench and will help establish a more effective and efficient court system in Madison County.”

Pyle said his experience gives him the ability to view cases from the perspective of law-enforcement officers and with an understanding of legal theory. “It gives me a really well-rounded background to be an effective judge.”

The announcement of Pyle’s appointment said he will be sworn in at an unspecified later date. The Indiana Supreme Court appointed retired Judge Jack Brinkman as a temporary judge in Circuit Court days after Spencer’s resignation.

Spencer resigned the judgeship on Sept. 25 amid an investigation of a judicial misconduct complaint. That case was closed with Spencer’s resignation.

A Republican, Pyle will ascend to the bench to fill a short term before he will have to stand for election next year. Given the interest in recent judicial openings, it’s likely that he will face challengers in the 2010 primary and general.

For now though, he said he’s focused on the job ahead.

“One of the biggest challenges will be to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible. We’ll be moving forward with unification of the court system,” Pyle said. Circuit Court is the only court that is not part of the unified court system, which uses the same case-management system, shares resources and is designed to improve overall court administration.

“It’s just an effort to be more efficient and to use taxpayer resources much more efficiently,” Pyle said.

The selection of Pyle to fill the Circuit Court post is the county’s second judicial replacement in recent months. In May, Daniels appointed David Happe, 38, as the new judge of Superior Court 4, filling the vacancy created by the death of Judge David W. Hopper.

Pyle was one of six candidates interviewed to fill the vacancy in Superior Court 4, and Daniels’ office did not solicit applicants for the Circuit Court opening. Along with Happe and Pyle, others who were interviewed were former Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory K. Scott, former Anderson mayoral candidate John M. Blevins, and former Superior Court 5 judicial candidate William C. Davisson.

Pyle said he was appreciative of residents who supported him for the judicial post. “I was just very honored and very humbled by it. ... The others in consideration were equally capable also.”

A Rhode Island native, Pyle came to Anderson in 1987, where his father, Rudolph Pyle Jr., was a professor at AU. Pyle’s father, now retired, and mother, Caroline, still live in Anderson, and Pyle said he’s settling into a new home in the city he considers his hometown.

“I’m here to stay,” Pyle said.

A HISTORY-MAKING JUDGE

Rudolph “Rudy” R. Pyle III is the first black judge in Madison County. Here’s a look at the new judge of Madison Circuit Court:

  • Age: 39.
  • Family: Son, Seth, 1.
  • Political affiliation: Republican.
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree from Anderson University. Law degree from Indiana University. Master’s degree from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Professional: Deputy Madison County prosecutor since 2004; in private practice in 2006. Indiana State Trooper for nearly four years. Served as law clerk for Indiana Court of Appeals. Adjunct professor at AU.

— Dave Stafford is a staff writer for The Herald Bulletin. Story posted with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.