Tinder Receives Senior Peck Medal
by Richard Paige
April 15, 2015
Spotlighting a lifetime of public service, recently retired federal judge John Daniel Tinder delivered the keynote address Monday at the David W. Peck Lecture and Awards Banquet, the annual Wabash Prelaw Society honors program.
Tinder’s lecture, “Wabash – The Foundation for Public Service: Judge William Woods (Class of 1859), Me and You,” drew parallels between his career and that of Judge Woods, who also served as a prosecutor and a federal trial and appellate judge, and discussed how the Wabash liberal arts education continues to be a launching pad for public service.
“Leadership and service are things that come automatically to you with a background from Wabash and in the law,” said Tinder. “Wherever you go, you will be drawn to leadership. People will look to you because you have analytical skills, are thoughtful, and possess a perspective that’s important to get things done. People look to you for an answer and for help.”
Judge Tinder, who received the Senior Peck Medal for Eminence in the Law, served as a served as a prosecutor, public defender, and federal trial and appellate judge in a lengthy legal career that ended in February. He noted that there are few straight-line paths in the law.
“Careers are very difficult to predict,” Tinder said. “Only when you look backwards from the things that someone like Judge Woods did can you see how those things happened. It took a lot of good, hard work, and there is not a lot of predictability about it. At each stage of his life, he did the best that he could with what was before him and that led to something else. There is a real lesson there.”
According to Tinder, the law presents a never ending array of intellectual, personal, and moral challenges. It’s the kind of hard work that easily grows tiresome, and it really starts when one closes the books in law school.
“Every day presents these arrays of challenges,” he said. “You may get tired, but you will never get bored. It will challenge your mind and challenge you to find a different perspective.”
Tinder’s career started as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana in 1974 and ended as a judge on the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. In between, he’s served in private practice, the Marion County public defender’s office, and as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University School of Law.
“You have represented the high ideals of the law and judiciary with diligence and integrity; you have gone about your work ethically and with a wry sense of humor,” said Dr. Gregory D. Hess, Wabash College President, in presenting Tinder with the Peck Medal. “The people of Indiana and of the Seventh Circuit are better for your service.”
Prelaw Society award winners were announced as follows:
Richard O. Ristine Law Award: Jeff Been ’81; Executive Director, Legal Aid Society, Louisville, KY
Junior Peck Medal: Jacob Burnett ’15 and Andrew Dettmer ‘15
James E. Bingham Award: Tyler Hardcastle ‘15
William Nelson White Scholarship Award: Zach Mahone ‘15
Joseph J. Daniels Award in Constitutional Law: Matthew Binder ‘16
Senior Peck Medal: Judge John Daniel Tinder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit