Patricia Gifford Butsch, 79, a retired Superior Court Judge in the Criminal Division, passed away April 8 in Fort Meyers Beach, Fla., from a massive hemorrhagic stroke.
Judge Gifford served on the bench for 30 years, retired in 2008, and then served as a Senior Judge. She received national recognition for presiding over boxer Mike Tyson’s 1992 rape trial, earning praise for maintaining order through extensive media coverage.
A 1960 graduate of the College of William and Mary, Judge Gifford began her career as an elementary school teacher in Washington Township and in U.S. Army Dependent Schools in Neubrucke, Germany.
Judge Gifford graduated from Indiana University School of Law in 1968 and became an Associate at the law firm of Runnels and Rademacher. She then accepted a position at the Office of Attorney General of Indiana in 1969 as Deputy Attorney General and later as Assistant Attorney General. In 1972 she became a Partner in the law firm of Moriarty & Gifford while also serving as Marion County Deputy Prosecutor in Municipal Court. In 1973 Judge Gifford became one of the first women in the United States appointed to prosecute only rape cases. From 1975 to 1978 she served as Referee for the Marion County Juvenile Court before running for Superior Court Judge in 1978. She took the bench on January 1, 1979.
Judge Gifford served as Presiding Judge and twice served as Associate Presiding Judge. She was a member of the Indianapolis and Indiana State Bar Associations and is listed in Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in American Law.
Gifford served four terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the Board of Church Extension of the Disciples of Christ and served as Chairperson of the Board twice. She served as President of the Third Christian Church Board of Directors and was a member of the Board of Directors of Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, Christian Theological Seminary, and St. Richard’s School.
She was a member of Geist Christian Church; the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter of DAR; Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity for women; and she was an active member of the Indianapolis Sailing Club.
Judge Gifford was the recipient of numerous awards including Sagamore of the Wabash, Distinguished Hoosier, Indianapolis Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, and Indianapolis Legal Aid Society Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judge Gifford was preceded in death by her parents, Jessie M. Gifford and George T. Gifford, and brother, George T. Gifford, Jr. She is survived by her husband, Robert A. Butsch; daughter, Jennifer Butsch Petit; son-in-law, Michael J. Petit; and three grandsons, Jack M. Petit, George T. Petit, and Samuel R. Petit.
Services will be held on Saturday, April 21, at Geist Christian Church at 10 a.m. with calling on Friday, April 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, from 9 to 9:45 a.m.