The faculty of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law are truly world class scholars and teachers. Historically the school has employed some of the sharpest minds in American jurisprudence. The deceased faculty listed here represent just a small percentage of the exceptional individuals who have served as faculty members of the Maurer School of Law.
Arrangement is by year of birth. To search for a specific former faculty member, use the search box in the upper left-hand corner of this screen.
William Tod Otto was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 19, 1816. Otto received both his bachelor’s degree (A.B., 1833) and his master’s degree (A.M., 1836) from the University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, he read law with noted attorney and politician, Joseph Ingersoll. Otto then moved to Brownstown, Indiana and began practicing law. In 1844, he became Judge of Indiana’s Second Circuit Court, a position he held until 1852. Concurrently, he served as a professor at Indiana University’s Department of Law (1847-1852). Otto was just the second professor of Law at Indiana. The school presented him a LL.D. degree when he retired from teaching. Upon leaving the bench and academia, Otto moved to New Albany and returned to private practice.
Otto ran unsuccessfully for the Attorney General of Indiana in 1858. At an unknown date, Otto became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln and headed the Indiana delegation to the 1860 Republican convention. As such, he is often credited with delivering Indiana for Lincoln. Once elected, Lincoln appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Interior, where he played a leading role in the country’s policies towards Native Americans. Otto is said to have been among those individuals who were at the deathbed of Lincoln. He remained in the Interior Department until 1871, when he began his service as arbitrator for claims against Spain from U.S. citizens in Cuba. He also served as a delegate to the Universal Postal Union congress in Lisbon, Portugal (1885).
Otto is, perhaps, best known as the eighth Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, a position he held from 1875 until 1883 (v.91-v.107 United States Reports). His tenure as Reporter was the first in which the court’s case volumes were not identified by the Reporter’s name. Thus, Otto is often referred to as the “First Anonymous” Reporter.
William Tod Otto died in Philadelphia on November 7, 1905 at the age of 89.
George Augustus Bicknell was born on February 6, 1815 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied law at Yale University, and in 1836, he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in New York City. He moved to Lexington, Scott County, Indiana in 1846. In 1848, he was elected prosecuting attorney for Scott County, and in 1850, elected circuit prosecutor. He became the judge of the second Indiana Judicial Circuit in 1852, serving until 1876. From 1861 to 1870, he was a professor of law at Indiana University, Bloomington.
In 1876, Bicknell was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was reelected to Congress in 1878. His renomination in 1880 failed and he left Congress. He was the commissioner of appeals for the Indiana Supreme Court from 1881 to 1885, and in 1889, he was elected judge of the Indiana Circuit Court. He was serving in that office until his death on April 11, 1891. He was interred in Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana.
Samuel Elliott Perkins holds the distinction of being the only person to serve on both Indiana Supreme Courts created by the state’s first and second constitutions. Perkins was born on December 8, 1811 in Brattleboro, Vermont. An orphan at age five; Perkins was raised by family friends in Massachusetts. Perkins developed an interest in law at an early age and studied with an attorney in rural New York, before migrating to Indiana, in 1836, where he completed his studies under Richmond attorney J. W. Borden.
Perkins briefly served as Wayne County’s prosecuting attorney (1843) before appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court in 1846. He had been nominated to the court twice before, but failed to win appointment by the Indiana Senate. Once appointed, he served for twenty-two years, but not consecutively. He taught law at Northwestern Christian University (Butler University) in 1857 and later joined the faculty of the Indiana University Law Department in 1870. He remained at IU for two years and then served three years as a judge on the Marion County Superior Court. He returned to the Supreme Court in 1877 and was a sitting justice at the time of his death on December 17, 1879.
Delana R. Eckels was born on August 19, 1806 in Fleming County, Kentucky. He studied law and in 1827 was admitted to the bar and moved to Monroe County, Indiana. He moved to Owen County in 1833 and in 1836 he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives. He served one term in the General Assembly and in 1839 he moved to Putnam County. He edited the Greencastle Indiana Patriot in 1842, and when the Mexican-American War broke out in 1846, he enlisted in the 1st Indiana Volunteers, serving as captain. When the war ended, he returned to Indiana to resume his law practice. He served as judge for the 7th Indiana Circuit from 1851 to 1852, and in 1857 President James Buchanan appointed him as the chief justice for the Utah Territory. The Utah Territory was in an open state of lawlessness and rebellion, and Justice Eckels sought to reestablish the rule of law and order in the territory. Due to the distance, length of travel time, and the sectional crisis looming in the east, it was very difficult for federal officials to prosecute indictments and punish convicts. In 1860, Eckels resigned as Chief Justice and returned to Indiana.
Justice Eckels returned to his law practice in Putnam County upon his return from Utah. In the 1860 election, he supported the pro-southern candidate, John C. Breckinridge. When the war broke out, he became the leader of the local anti-war Democrats (known popularly as “Copperheads”). He opposed emancipation and the draft, and he helped organize local resistance to the draft. After the war, he returned to the bench and from 1872 to 1873, he was on the law faculty at the Indiana University School of Law.
Delana Eckels died on October 29, 1888. He was interred in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Greencastle.
James Ray McCorkle Bryant was born on June 25, 1802 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Gray and Wylie’s Academy and the University of Pennsylvania. He worked as a clerk in the U.S. General Land Office in Washington D.C. from 1821 to 1835. He also studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1835. After his admission to the bar, he moved to Montgomery County, Indiana. He represented Montgomery County in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1838 to 1839. In 1843, he moved to Warren County, Indiana and served in the Indiana House of Representatives from Warren County for the 1847-48 session, the 1848-49 session, and the 1851-52 session. He also was a delegate to the Indiana Constitutional Convention from 1850 to 1851. In 1855, he was appointed a trustee of Indiana University, and in 1856, he was appointed professor of law.
Professor Bryant served as Indiana University’s professor of law until 1861. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he left the University and enlisted in the army. He served in the original 10th Indiana Volunteers (3-month enlistment), first as a captain and then promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was wounded at the Battle of Rich Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia) on July 11, 1861. He mustered out of the army on August 8, 1861 in Indianapolis, and eventually died of his wounds at home in Williamsport, Warren County, Indiana on February 25, 1866. He was interred in the Hillside Cemetery, Williamsport, Indiana.