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Competing for a cause

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Through the end of March, Indiana law firms will be collecting donations for two charitable causes.

March Against Hunger, a statewide food drive to benefit Indiana’s food banks, offers a prize for top contributors in four categories: Large firm, medium-sized firm, small firm, and public/nonprofit firm. Now in its fourth year, the food drive is an initiative that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller created.

“When I talk about it, I always mention two things – lawyers do have this mission to serve others, so there’s that part of this,” Zoeller said. “But the other is, you can’t deny that lawyers are very competitive. I’ve got a touch of it myself. I do think the competition – kind of a friendly rivalry – it does play off of that.”

On March 8, lawyers were preparing for another event that pits firm against firm: the Fight for Air Climb, which benefits the American Lung Association.

food-drive-15col.jpg At the Indianapolis office of Kightlinger & Gray, partner Libby Moss, receptionist Jennifer Rhorer and Director of Administration Jennifer Ellis (from left to right) have been working to generate donations for March Against Hunger. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Dan Long, of Frost Brown Todd, said that 2011 was the first year in which law firms competed against each other in the annual stair-climb, which this year was March 10. He explained that other firms were happy to participate in the event.

“At least in the Indianapolis area, we’re all very competitive, and one way to get lawyers involved is to tell them someone else can do it better, or to tell them they can’t do it,” he said.

Participants climb 35 flights of stairs in the Regions Bank Tower in Indianapolis once, twice or three times. Last year, Frost Brown Todd edged out Barnes & Thornburg to win first place among law firms that participated.

While Long appreciates the competition – and the bragging rights that come with winning – what appeals to him more is that law firms are among the top corporate contributors to the fundraiser.

“The thing what I like about this is three of the top five – Frost, Bingham, Barnes – are law firms,” he said.

For those less fortunate

When Greg Zoeller became attorney general in January 2009, he remembered that when he had been a deputy in that office, the Indiana State Bar Association had approached AG Steve Carter about promoting membership in the state bar.

Zoeller expected the ISBA would likely ask the same of him.

“I started to think about what I could go out and ask in return,” he said. He recalled reading about a food drive promoted by the Virginia State Bar Association and decided he wanted to implement a similar program in Indiana.  

fooddrivetrophy.jpg This traveling trophy went to Frost Brown Todd last year for winning the law firm competition in the Fight for Air Climb. (Photo Submitted)

“So, when members of the Indiana State Bar Association came and asked if I would help keep up membership, I said I would love to – and I asked if they would help with my program,” he said.

Since then, the ISBA and attorney general have worked together with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to spread the word about March Against Hunger. The campaign encourages lawyers to contribute food and monetary donations for the state’s food banks. Unlike the previous three years, this year’s food drive will last the entire month of March, rather than two weeks.

Last year, Zoeller expanded the food drive to include firms in Ohio and Kentucky since food banks located on the other side of Indiana’s state lines serve some Indiana residents. Fifty law firms in Indiana and Kentucky participated, collecting more than 6,000 pounds of food and $27,574, which combined is the equivalent of 143,986 pounds (or 72 tons) of assistance.

South Bend’s Tuesley Hall Konopa won first place in the small firm category last year, raising $1,331 and 29 pounds of food. Partner Tom Hall explained that the competition was a natural fit for the firm because it already holds an annual Thanksgiving event to benefit the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

When asked if the competitive nature of March Against Hunger helped motivate attorneys, he laughed, then said, “It helps, and we’re a little disappointed that we’ll have to go up against much larger firms this year.” Having added some attorneys since last year, the firm will be bumped up into the medium-sized ffood-drive-factbox.gifirm category.

Barnes & Thornburg was the first-place winner in large firm category last year, donating 1,031 pounds of food and $8,395. Robert Grand, managing partner of the Indianapolis office, explained that charitable giving has always been a priority for the firm.

“We have a lot of folks here that are involved in a lot of different things in the community, and we have had a long history of participating in those things – for instance, when the Bears were playing the Colts in the Super Bowl, we did a (drive) for who could raise the most for the food bank in our city,” Grand said.

Terre Haute firm Fleschner Stark Tanoos & Newlin took first place in 2011 in the medium-sized firm category, raising $3,126 and 310 pounds of food. The Department of Justice/Office of the U.S. Trustee in Indianapolis earned first place honors in the public/nonprofit firm category, donating $1,193 and 67 pounds of food.

Strength in numbers

Frost Brown Todd has four teams – 31 people – competing in the Fight for Air Climb including Park Tudor Kids, whose team captain is Long’s 12-year-old daughter.

Mike Limrick, captain of the Bingham Greenebaum Doll team, said 10 people from his firm will participate.

“I’ve been really surprised at the response and just the number of firms that are involved,” he said.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister is a corporate sponsor, and Long said Krieg DeVault is sponsoring a team.

Barnes & Thornburg is fielding teams for a “staff v. partners” challenge.

“Whatever they’re doing, it’s working for them – they have 20 more climbers than last year, and they’ve more than doubled what they raised last year,” he said. Still, Long wouldn’t mind holding onto the first-place traveling trophy this year.•

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  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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