2012 Leadership in Law: Bruce G. Berner

Louis and Anna Seegers Professor of Law, Valparaiso University Law School, Valparaiso Valparaiso University Law School

April 25, 2012
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Bruce G. Berner (IL Photo/Steve Linsenmayer)

Professor Bruce Berner has been at the law school since 1971 and is a student favorite. He was repeatedly voted by students to address them at commencement – until he became disqualified because of his position as associate dean. While a student, Bruce helped found the “Valparaiso University Law Review.” His name may be familiar to those who kept up with the Ford Pinto case in the 1970s – he served as a special prosecutor. Today, he is working with the Indiana Supreme Court by evaluating a pilot project that will open certain court proceedings to the public through webcasting.

The best advice I ever received was
as I left for college, my father advised me to be a little suspicious of anyone who was certain about anything.  

I wish I had known when I graduated law school that
law school had only begun.  Many lawyers, including me, often have a hard time accepting legal principles which developed after we graduated.

My best stress reliever is

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be
a math teacher (but only because I couldn’t hit well enough to be a major league baseball player). 

In 2012, I’d like to
live until 2013.

The three words that best describe me are
lucky, humorous and hopeful.

In the movie about my life,
Woody Allen would play me. (We look a little alike and both were born in Brooklyn.)

In my community, I’m passionate about
getting people to talk with each other and find that they agree about far more than they think they do.


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  1. What Mr. Bir is paying is actually Undifferentiated Family Support, which is a mixture of child support and spousal maintenance. If the courts had labeled accurately labeled the transfer payment, I think that Mr. Bir would have fewer objections to paying it because both Spousal Maintenance and Undifferentiated Family Support are tax deductions for the paying party and taxable to the receiving party. I brought this issue up with my family court judge when my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife was using the 'child support' transfer payment to support both herself and out children. Said family court judge stated that I did not know what I was talking about because I did not have a Juris Doctorate, despite my having a printout with dictionary definitions of the legal terms that I was using for documentation.

  2. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  3. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  4. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  5. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?