A graduate of the University of Rochester and the Boston University School of Law, Suzanne Bellamy practiced law for twenty-five years as a corporate counsel in Indianapolis. She used this experience to help her with her writing of the new Indiana Historical Society Press book Hoosier Justice at Nuremberg. Bellamy took took to answer a few questions about her book.
How did you first become involved with this project?
Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard approached me about five years ago about researching and writing this book. He was interested in how two judges from the Indiana Supreme Court had ended up as judges in the American military trials in Nuremberg, Germany after World War II. As a public history student and an attorney, I was instantly attracted to the topic as it combined both of my disciplines.
Did your training as a lawyer help with the research and writing of this book?
Definitely. In order to tell the story of Curtis Shake and Frank Richman, I had to tell the story of the trial in which each was involved. In Shake’s case, he was the presiding judge at the I.G. Farben trial. Richman was on the panel for the trial of Friedrich Flick and his associates. I needed to explain the counts of each indictment and the evidence presented relative to each such count in order to make sense of the verdicts and the responses thereto. I also did research at the law library on the significant cases brought before the Indiana Supreme Court during their tenures in which Shake and Richman wrote the majority opinions.
What did you learn in doing the project that surprised you?
I learned that these Hoosier judges were both men of depth whose stories each included tests of their character. In Shake’s case, he was accused as a young man of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan, which derailed his run for statewide office in Indiana. Richman was tested by his own political party when he was not renominated for his seat on the Indiana Supreme Court due to an opinion he had written contrary to his party’s position.
What is your next writing project?
I participated in writing several sections of the upcoming book on all of the Indiana Supreme Court justices which the Indiana Historical Society is publishing in July 2010. I am currently writing an institutional history of this decade for the American Legion Auxiliary, a national women’s patriotic organization.