Allen County’s first female judge retiring after 30 years

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Allen Superior Court Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer will retire this summer after serving in Allen County for nearly 30 years. Her long, and storied career in law will officially end on June 15, 2020.

Judge Boyer officially communicated her intent to retire to Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush Thursday after spending the past several days informing colleagues of her plans.

Boyer made history in 1991 as the first woman ever to be appointed as an Allen County judge. Governor Evan Bayh appointed her to her first full term in 1992, and she has been re-elected every six years since then.

Boyer has also served as Chief Judge twice during her career. That includes in 2019 while Allen Superior Court had five female judges serving at the same time, making up a majority of the court for the first time in its history.

WANE 15’s Alyssa Ivanson did a series of special reports about the historic moment in March 2019. You can watch them here.

Judge Boyer has been recognized for her contributions to the Indiana judiciary on several occasions. In 2017, she received the Leadership in Law honor from Indiana Lawyer. In 2011, Boyer received the Excellence in Public Information award from the Indiana Judges Association. Boyer was also honored in 2014 for her leadership, including a term as chair, of the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education.

“All I have ever wanted to do was make a difference,” Judge Boyer said. “Being a Judge allowed me to do that in ways I never imagined. I’ve been a part of everything from improving the delivery of justice statewide to helping people keep their homes right here in Allen County. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have served and so appreciative to the citizens of Allen County for their trust.”

Among Judge Boyer’s most impactful contributions to the Indiana Courts was her role in the 2010 creation of “plain English” instructions for jurors in civil cases. She was part of a statewide committee of Judges and attorneys tasked with translating complex legal concepts, terminology and processes faced by juries into clear, concise explanations and definitions. The project, part of a 13-year statewide jury reform effort, has made civil jury service less stressful and more satisfying to citizens.

As a Civil Division Judge, Boyer has presided mainly over civil proceedings and jury trials, including commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury litigation.

In conjunction with the Indiana Supreme Court, Judge Boyer helped establish and currently operates the Allen County Mortgage Foreclosure Trial Court Assistance Project. She made sure that the mortgage foreclosure program continued in Allen County even after state funding for the program ended.

“Nancy Boyer understands how the judicial branch of government works and what it can accomplish like few other people ever have,” said Judge Craig J. Bobay, Administrative Judge of the Allen Superior Court Civil Division. “She is a tireless innovator who didn’t just break the glass ceiling for women in the Allen County Courts. She has never been afraid to think big and work hard to do more with the leadership role the community entrusted to her. Allen County is a better and more compassionate place because Judge Boyer chose a career in public service.”

A South Side High School graduate, Judge Boyer was an English Literature major at DePauw University where she graduated cum laude in 1973. She went on to Indiana University School of Law (McKinney), graduating with honors in 1976.

Judge Boyer’s successor will be appointed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb from a group of finalists to be identified by the Allen County Judicial Nominating Commission. The timing of that process will be announced in the future by the Governor’s Office.

That person will complete the remainder of Judge Boyer’s current term, which ends Dec. 31, 2022.

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