Growing up, Justice Christopher Goff didn’t have much, but he did have was lofty goals.
“We are gathered to celebrate the fact that someone born to teenage parents, married the daughter of migrant workers and is from the rural part of the state has been selected to serve on the state’s highest court,” Goff said at his investiture and robing ceremony Friday.
Goff said he had goals of becoming an attorney and dreamed of being a Supreme Court justice — a dream that came a reality when he was named Indiana’s 110th Supreme Court justice.
Following Justice Robert Rucker’s retirement from the bench, Gov. Eric Holcomb in May named Goff to fill the empty seat. Goff continued to serve as the Wabash County Superior Court judge until July. Goff transitioned from serving on the Wabash County Superior Court for more than 10 years, to becoming the state’s youngest Supreme Court justice July 24 after taking private oath to start work prior to Friday’s ceremony.
“Judge Goff’s superb professional qualities are immediately evident to anyone who spends any length of time in his presence,” Holcomb said. “He has a profound respect for the constitution and is deeply devoted to justice.”
Holcomb said Goff’s dedication to making the court systems better and his ability to be a forward thinker made him the best candidate to fill Rucker’s shoes.
“I feel grateful to Gov. Holcomb,” Goff said. “Thank you for the trust in me for this appointment. I know you had a very difficult decision to make.”
Goff was one of the three finalists named for the position along with Clark Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael and Boone Superior Court Judge Matthew Kincaid — all candidates which Holcomb said were overly qualified.
Mark Guenin, of the Wabash County Bar, said Goff is a great choice because while serving in Wabash County, Goff had large envisions that he always set forth to accomplish.
“Because of him, our people became better, our people became stronger,” Guenin said.
Aside from serving as the Superior Court judge, each December Goff runs a 50K ultra-trail marathon, which is nearly 31 miles of running on uneven ground in cold weather. His dedication to the ruthless sport, Guenin said, shows he is a dedicated, hardworking person who will push himself and others around him.
Goff graduated summa cum laude from Ball State University in 1994 before obtaining a law degree in 1996 from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
While at the Wabash County Superior Court, he fought a drug abuse problem that was overrunning his community by implementing Wabash County’s Drug Court and Family Drug Treatment Court.
From South Korea to Texas, more than 50 members of Goff’s family sat in the Indiana Supreme Court as his portrait was unveiled and he put on his robe.
In the years to come, Goff, who described himself as a strong believer in judicial restraint and an originalist when it comes to constitutional interpretation, said he hopes Indiana is a state that is celebrated, and he knows it’s possible.
“Growing up, I had hopes that seemed impossible,” Goff said. “I am living proof that anything is possible. The next time that you’re attempted to criticize a lofty goal is impossible, ask yourself what can I do to achieve that goal, and do just that.”
Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.