By James F. Maguire | Editor, Indiana Court Times
This is the 47th Court Times article that highlights up close and personal a member of the Indiana Judiciary.
Morgan Superior Court No.1 Judge Peter R. Foley is a 1993 graduate of Indiana University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History/Criminal Justice and a 1997 graduate of Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Following graduation, he practiced law from 1997 to 2014 in the firm of Foley, Foley & Peden in Martinsville, where he primarily handled civil matters. He also served as Morgan County Attorney from 2001 to 2014.
He was elected as judge in 2014. Judge Foley is a member of the Indiana Judicial Conference Probate Committee and a member of the Indiana Advisory Task Force on Remote Access to and Privacy of Electronic Court Records. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Judicial Conference from 2015 to 2016.
Judge Foley married his wife, Jill, on February 27, 1999. Jill is an occupational therapist for IU Health Morgan and provides OT therapy in the Martinsville schools. They are the proud parents of two children: Maggie age 17, senior, and Anna age 16, sophomore, both at Martinsville High School.
What was your childhood like?
I was born and raised in Martinsville. I’m the youngest of three boys and grew up playing sports and riding bikes in the neighborhood. Idyllic childhood of the 70’s and 80’s stuff. Our parents loved to travel, and we had memorable family vacations, whether it was to the beach, Washington D.C., the “Griswald” family trip out west in a station wagon, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, skiing in the Rockies, or river rafting. It was always an adventure. My father was an attorney and my mother was a school teacher. True to the small-town cliché, all the adults in town knew me as one of the “Foley boys” whether I knew them or not, which certainly presented both advantages and disadvantages depending on what we were up to.
What prompted you to study law?
Law was the family business. My father and grandfather were attorneys in Martinsville and I had several uncles who were also attorneys. I was a History/Criminal Justice major in college and realized prior to my junior year that I wanted to go on to law school.
I still wasn’t convinced I’d return to Martinsville and join the small town/county-seat law practice until my third year of law school. After law school graduation, I started working at the family law firm and found the small town practice of law to be thoroughly fulfilling.
What is the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of being a judge?
The most challenging is constantly being “on” and making hundreds of substantive decisions each and every day, whether it’s ruling on motions, decisions from the bench, or administrative work. As the judge, you’re the final word and must make the decision. The most rewarding aspect of the job is seeing a positive impact from a decision or case in the lives of those affected by the decision.
What profession would you choose outside of the law?
I’ve always been interested in politics and history, so possibly something along those lines, maybe a teacher. If money and family weren’t considerations, a job riding a ski lift everyday would be hard to beat.
Do you have any hobbies or favorite leisure activities?
Outside of work, I enjoy running, play church softball in the summer, have a weekly tennis game, and occasionally play some golf. I really enjoy planning and taking family vacations. Until a couple of years ago, we managed to tent-camp as a family at least once a year. My kids are now almost out of high school, so the opportunities for family vacations are slipping away.
Who are the people you most admire and why?
My wife, children, and family have had the greatest influence on my life and are the people I most admire. History is full of people from seemingly normal and unremarkable backgrounds who go on to lead extraordinary and influential lives. I’m always fascinated by the manner in which people are able to be both shaped by, and influence, events.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote?
The one I currently use with my girls, who are a senior and sophomore in high school is, “Don’t try to win high school.”
Name one or more books that would make your recommended reading list.
I like non-fiction, primarily biographies or history. I try to read at least one presidential biography a year. Most recently completing a biography on Grant (by Ronald White, Jr.) and Coolidge (by Amity Shlaes). I don’t have a “best” book, but have really enjoyed the work of Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough, Ron Chernow, and Jon Meacham.
Do you have a preferred getaway spot or place where you like to relax, alone or with your family?
I love getting out West to the mountains, no matter the season or location. Our most recent family vacation was to the Southwest, driving from Phoenix to Vegas, spending time in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. Although I lost out on camping, we had a blast mountain biking, hiking, and driving through the desert.
Do you have a favorite meal/recipe/restaurant?
I’ll pretty much eat anything you put on my plate and don’t have a favorite. I do enjoy having a burger and beer at the Upland Brewpub in Bloomington.
What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
I really enjoy being a judge and the challenges this role presents. I look forward to being on the bench and continuing to seek out ways to improve the judiciary both locally and at the state level.
I realize, however, if you had asked me this question 10 years ago, I would not have been able to tell you I’d be doing what I’m doing now. So I also look forward to the unknown opportunities of the future. On a personal note, hopefully Jill and I will be able to get our two girls through college and into unsubsidized adulthood.