HAMMOND | Don’t mention the word “retirement” to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Rodovich, even if he is transitioning to a reduced caseload and now collecting a pension.
After a nearly 40-year legal career, including 30 years on the federal bench, Rodovich cleaned out his office Wednesday to make way for his successor, John Martin.
Although Rodovich is now taking the “smaller office” at the federal courthouse in Hammond and cutting his caseload by 60 percent, he isn’t slowing down. He hopes to ply his knowledge as a private practice attorney, former Lake County deputy prosecutor and magistrate judge teaching the law.
“I’m hitting 65 and felt it was time to give someone else the chance to serve as a federal judge,” he said.
According to Rodovich, who was admitted to the Indiana Bar Association in 1973, he has presided over more than 200 jury trials and 200 bench trials.
Reflecting on those cases, he noted Byron v. Clay, a 1989 case in which Rudy Byron sued Rudy Clay over being fired from his Lake County government job for political reasons.
Rodovich ruled against Byron’s claim that he was entitled to damages by virtue that Byron essentially did no work and that the job was purely a political favor.
“The 7th Court of Appeals upheld my decision and had sort of a novel opinion,” Rodovich said.
Headline-making decisions aside, Rodovich said he’s enjoyed working in relative anonymity and the challenges of making judicial decisions.
Using a baseball analogy, the Chicago White Sox season ticket holder said, “Sometimes the runner is clearly out at first, other times it’s a bang-bang play and the call is a little tougher to make.”
Schererville lawyer Rhett Tauber, whose friendship with Rodovich dates to 1975, has great respect for him as a judge.
“I think the decisions Andy has made as a federal magistrate have been beyond reproach,” Tauber said. “The legal and judicial community and Northwest Indiana should be very proud of his service.”
Although drawing a pension as a “retired” judge, Rodovich won’t earn a salary. And he’ll be without his longtime secretary Diane Markley, who “fully” retired on Tuesday.
“I’ve been with Judge Rodovich for 25 years and he’s been a very understanding person to work with,” she said. “I think all the attorneys respect him even if they didn’t always agree with him.”