By James F. Maguire | Editor, Indiana Court Times
This is the 45th Court Times article to highlight up close and personal a member of the Indiana Judiciary.
Judge Andrea K. McCord is the Circuit Court Judge in Lawrence County. Judge McCord is a 1987 Graduate of Franklin College and a 1990 Graduate of Indiana University McKinney School of Law. After graduating law school, she clerked for Judge Linda Chezem at the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1990-1991. She practiced law at the firm of Hass and Denslaw in Franklin, Indiana from 1991-1993, and then moved back to Lawrence County, where she was a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from 1993-1994. In January 1995, Judge Rick McIntyre appointed her as Juvenile Referee serving three days a week in Lawrence, and beginning in 1996, she also served two days per week in Jackson County. In 2007, Governor Mitch Daniels appointed her as Circuit Court Judge in Lawrence County.
Judge McCord currently is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, the IJA Board of Managers, the ICJFC Board, the Chair of the Improvements to the Judiciary Committee for the Indiana State Bar and the Board of Trustees for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute where she heads the Youth Services Division Committee. She has received the Indiana Torchbearer’s Award; the Indiana State Bar Association’s Honorable Viola Taliaferro Award for addressing the unmet legal needs of children; the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Free Indiana Award for Most Promising Juvenile Program in the State of Indiana; and, she was a member of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence In Public Service Series Class of 1999.
Judge McCord married her husband, Tom, in 1990. He is currently the Deputy Director of Enforcement for the Indiana Gaming Commission, having previously retired from the Indiana State Police. Andrea and Tom have two children, a daughter Jordyn (25) who works for Eli Lilly as an engineer and is getting married in November, and a son Sean (23) who works for Lowe’s in Indianapolis as an estimator. They also have Lewellyn Setters and English Cocker Spaniels.
Judge McCord has been very involved in her community, as the past chairperson of Mitchell’s Persimmon Festival, but her most fulfilling projects include being a member on the founding board of “The Lion’s Den,” a non-profit teen coffeehouse devoted to creating alternatives for young people to drugs and alcohol, and being a founder of Walk With Excellence, an awards program honoring women who have made a difference in their community.
What do you like most and least about being a trial court judge?
I love adoptions! They are one of the few hearings where everyone leaves happy. I also enjoy watching and dealing with attorneys who really know and understand the law relating to their particular issue and are good with a jury. We have a really good Bar in Lawrence County, and that makes my job enjoyable. I also have a wonderful support staff. I enjoy the friendships I have made with other judges around the state.
I like least watching the generational effect on families in the criminal justice system and seeing the children or grandchildren of people I have already dealt with in the system.
What was your major in college and why did you decide to study law?
I majored in American Studies with minors in Religion and History at Franklin College.
I have always been interested in the law. My mom used to take me to see trials in nearby courts that we both thought would be interesting. I was, and am, an avid reader and always have been drawn to legal fiction. Courtroom drama has been way overdone in books but it still drew my interest to try and understand the law and the legal process. I was also very influenced by our local Circuit Court Judge, Linda Chezem, who was one of the first female judges in the state and who allowed me to shadow her from time to time.
What would you do if you were not a judge?
At this point in my life, I would probably do a mediation practice because I enjoy what I do now. If I had never gone into law, I wanted to be a researcher and buyer for a history museum (not exactly Indiana Jones, but something that would make life interesting and challenging).
Who are the people you most admire?
Personally, my parents, my husband (Tom) and my kids. They were and are just good solid people who love me unconditionally. Professionally, there have been a lot of great people that I have admired and that have encouraged me to be my best self over the years, including Judge Linda Chezem, Judge Viola Taliaferro, and Judge Rick McIntyre.
What are your hobbies or favorite leisure activities, and how did you first get involved?
My hobbies are reading, traveling, fishing, and I enjoy snowmobiling. I love most water- related sports, however an injury several years ago has slowed that way down. My kids both learned to water ski when they were very young, and we spent most weekends in the summer camping, boating, and skiing when they were growing up.
My father was an avid fisherman and taught me from a young age. He and my mother later acquired a vacation home in Florida near the Gulf, and we all learned to enjoy fishing there.
What are your favorite books, and have you read any recently, or are reading now, that you would recommend?
It is hard to say that I have a favorite, it would be different for different genres and times in my life. I just love to read. I did recently read The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, after hearing IU football coach Tom Allen talk about how he has each of his coaching assistants cover a different chapter of the book with the players as part of their program. It has an interesting take on mixing historical fiction with leadership and personal development, and I enjoyed its message.
Where did you grow up and how would you describe your childhood?
I grew up on a large farm in Orleans, Indiana, where I was pretty much a tomboy and hated to come inside. When I was in 5th grade, we moved to Mitchell where I stayed until high school graduation. I had a wonderful childhood with parents who worked hard and were very kind, encouraging, and spiritual. We were always very involved in church as my father was a deacon, my mother played the organ, my grandfather the piano, and my uncle led the singing. I treasure the values that they taught me and try to emulate them. I have two older sisters, with whom I am close; and, since my dad had 8 brother and sisters, we always had cousins around. I still am close with my school friends and enjoy hearing about all of their life journeys. I was very blessed as a child, we weren’t rich, but we had all that we needed in every way.
Do you have a favorite quote(s)?
It not really a quote but a story. Having grown up with a mother who had seen Zig Ziglar speak many times and had met him, we were a very ‘power of positive thinking’ household. My mother used to remind me on a regular basis of the story of the bumble bee and how it was aero dynamically impossible for it to fly because its body was too big for its wings, but because the bee didn’t know it couldn’t fly, it flew anyway! She often gave bumble bee things as gifts just as a reminder that nothing is impossible. My mother was a wonderful person.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
We have a place in Venice, Florida, and I love being there. I love the beach and the ocean and enjoy fishing in the gulf. A few years ago, my daughter and I visited Scottsdale and Sedona, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon for her college graduation gift. I would love to go back there and do more hiking. The ocean and the desert are different kinds of beautiful, and each is relaxing in a different way.
Do you have a favorite meal, recipe, and restaurant?
I love to bake, and I learned to bake pies from my mother who learned from my grandma who was famous for it at our church. I have my grandmother’s and my mother’s recipe boxes and could pretty much close my eyes and pull something out and it would be great thanks to their guidance.
As for restaurants, I love seafood and my favorite places are a little place near Venice called the Casey Key Fish House and The Columbia on St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota.