This is the twenty-sixth of our Court Times articles that highlight up close and personal a member of the Indiana Judiciary.
Clark County Circuit Court #4 Judge Vicki Carmichael is our judge featured in this issue. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University Southeast and her law degree from the University of Louisville.
Following graduation from law school, she worked in the Office of Clark County Public Defender from 1989 to 2000, where she served as both the Assistant Public Defender and Chief Public Defender. In 2000, she was elected as the Judge of the Jeffersonville City Court serving from 2000 to 2006, when she was elected as Judge of the Clark Superior Court #1 (now Clark Circuit Court #4).
The voters of Clark County wisely returned Judge Carmichael to her seat on the bench in the most recent election and her current term will expire on December 31, 2018. Carmichael is a member of the Sherman Minton Inn of Court, the American Bar Association, American Judges Association, and the Indiana State Bar Association. She serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Judicial Conference of Indiana, the Board of Managers of the Indiana Judges Association, and as Member and Treasurer of the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (ICJFCJ).
Judge Carmichael and her husband, Lonnie Cooper, have sponsored a student from the Philippines who is now living with them and attending Ivy Tech Community College on an international student visa. She proudly reports that they are also in the process of adopting her. Her name is Cleneth Lumenario. She was one of the wards at the Lingap Center in Toledo City, Cebu, Philippines, where Lonnie has served for the past two years in the Peace Corps. The Lingap Center is a place where children, who have been neglected, abused, exploited or abandoned, live. The Center provides them with meals, health care, and most importantly, education. You can learn more at www.lingapcenter.org.
What do you like most and least about being a trial court judge?
I truly enjoy all aspects of judging. I find listening to novel arguments by well-prepared attorneys inspiring. I learn something new each and every day. That keeps this job interesting.
I do not enjoy the administrative aspects or the political aspects of the job, but it is what it is. I take the good with the bad and look forward to coming to work each day!
What was your major in college and why did you decide to study law?
Well, I went to Michigan State University and attended the James Madison College which focused on pre-law courses. When I ran out of money for out-of-state tuition, I moved back home and attended Indiana University Southeast where I majored in Sociology.
When I was in 7th grade, my class took a field trip to the courthouse. My history teacher’s brother-in-law was a judge (George “Buzz” Jacobs) and we watched a court session. I fell in love with the idea of arguing “my case” in front of a judge and decided right then I was going to law school! I told my parents (at the ripe age of 12) that I was going to be a lawyer, a judge and the first female president of the United States. I guess two out of three isn’t bad.
What would you do if you were not a judge?
I really don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a judge. It really has been a lifelong ambition. However, if I had to choose another career, I would be a teacher. I teach as an adjunct faculty member now at both Ivy Tech Community College and Ottawa University, and I really enjoy it. I plan to continue teaching after my service on the bench has come to a close (which I hope is not for a long time!).
Who are the people you most admire?
I admire those who try and often do make a difference. I admire my husband, Lonnie Cooper, for following his dreams (and taking me along with him). As some of you know, he has been serving for the past twenty-seven (27) months in the Philippines with the U.S. Peace Corps. It has been a life-changing experience for him and one he will treasure forever. I admire my parents for giving me every opportunity and encouragement to succeed. I admire my sister and brother for being such wonderful spouses to my in-laws and parents to my nephews and niece. They all inspire me!
What are your hobbies or favorite leisure activities, and how did you first get involved?
Reading is my number one hobby—reading for fun, not law! My older sister taught me to read when I was four years old and I haven’t put the books down since.
Traveling is number two. My goal is to visit each of the 50 states and each continent. I have traveled extensively, but still have a long way to go!
I also enjoy movies. If you haven’t seen Lee Daniels’ The Butler yet, go see it!
What are your favorite books, and have you read any recently, or are reading now, that you would recommend?
Currently, I am catching up on the James Patterson Alex Cross series on my Kindle. I don’t have any favorites. I read a lot of different authors, topics and types of books.
Where did you grow up and how would you describe your childhood?
I grew up in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where I still live. My family moved here when I was eight years old, so southern Indiana is my home. My father was an English teacher, my mother a secretary. I have an older sister and a younger brother who loved the outdoors and sports as much as I loved reading and studying! Summer vacations were spent traveling to Washington, D.C., for an educational adventure; St. Louis for a Cardinals game or two; or Florida to visit family and the beach.
My childhood was fantastic.
Do you have a favorite quote(s)?
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
“The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
—Robert Louis Stevenson
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere! As I said, travel is a hobby and one I pursue as often as I can.
Do you have a favorite meal, recipe, and restaurant?
I have a sign in my kitchen at home that says “Kitchen is for display only.” While I love to eat, cooking is not a passion. I do bake occasionally and enjoy making “Weight Watchers” cakes (one can of diet soda and a cake mix—diet Big Red and white cake turns out very sweet and delicious or one can of pumpkin and chocolate cake mix is yummy too!). I eat out a lot. My home is within walking distance of ten restaurants on the Ohio River. Anywhere I can walk to eat, have a glass of wine and walk home is fine by me!