On the nomination of the Board of Commissioners of Johnson County, Indiana, he was appointed by Indiana Governor Otis R. Bowen on 19 February 1974, at the age of 17, as a Justice of the Peace to fill a vacancy of office in White River Township, Johnson County, Indiana.
He adjudicated civil small claims cases such as debt collection, dishonored checks, landlord-tenant issues, and property damage. On his criminal docket, he heard misdemeanor cases such as violations of motor vehicle laws, disturbing the peace, shoplifting, and assault. Often, he held surety of the peace hearings and issued peace bonds which are known in the present day as protective orders. Of course, he solemnized marriages. He was officiating at weddings before he was legally old enough to get married without parental consent.
His appointive term ended 31 December 1974. He won contested primary and general elections in 1974 to continue in an elective term.
Fourteen years after serving on the bench as a teenage judge, he started law school. Three years later, on 10 May 1992, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) by Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
On 14 June 1993, he was admitted to practice as a member of the bar of the Indiana Supreme Court. On 2 August 1996, he was duly admitted and qualified as an Attorney and Counsellor of the United States Supreme Court.
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