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5 vie for spot on judicial commissions

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Openings on the Indiana Supreme Court and state Tax Court in recent months have put more focus on the selection process and what goes into choosing appellate jurists, leading to increased interest from the legal community about who has a voice in deciding nomination and other judicial qualifications issues.

Now, more than 7,000 attorneys in 19 central Indiana counties have the chance to vote on one colleague who will be that voice and be a part of the decision-making that will impact the judiciary and legal system throughout the state.

The vacancy will be for one seat on a seven-member panel that doubles as the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission and Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission, which is chaired by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and includes three lawyers chosen by colleagues and three non-attorneys appointed by the governor. Indianapolis attorney John Trimble completes his three-year term at year’s end, and five lawyers have submitted their names for consideration to replace him.

Applying for the post in the 2nd judicial district for the 2011-2013 term are:

Jan Carroll Carroll

• Jan M. Carroll, a partner at law firm Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis who was admitted to practice in 1984 and handles product liability, professional liability for lawyers and doctors, real estate and land use, and general commercial contract disputes. A former journalist who worked as an Associated Press reporter for 11 years, she also handles First Amendment and media law issues.

• David R. Hennessy, a solo criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis who sits on the Indiana Public Defender Council’s board of directors and has been practicing since 1982.

• Kathy L. Osborn, a partner at Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis who’s been practicing since 2000 and handles commercial, antitrust, and appellate litigation. She also chairs the Indianapolis Bar Association Appellate Practice Section.

• Joel Schumm, an Indianapolis attorney since 1998 and a law professor at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, largely practices criminal defense at the state trial and appellate levels.

David Hennessey Hennessy

• William E. Winingham Jr., a name partner at Wilson Kehoe & Winingham in Indianapolis who was admitted to practice in Indiana in 1979, has been an assistant U.S. Attorney assisting crime victims, and a state court prosecutor. Currently, he’s a plaintiff’s attorney focusing on civil litigation that includes vehicle accidents, fires and explosions, products liability, and cases against insurance companies.

The district is made up of Adams, Blackford, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Grant, Hamilton, Howard, Huntington, Jay, Madison, Marion, Miami, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Wabash, Wells, and White counties.

But whoever is chosen to start in January 2011 by those attorneys will have statewide impact on how judicial discipline and qualifications issues are tackled by the commissions. Those five are using that fact to point out specific areas that need more attention and emphasize how the makeup of those lawyer members is an important consideration.

The election also means the legal community is seeing a mix of pseudo campaigning from the group, with some contacting colleagues by word-of-mouth only and others tapping into more organized campaigns using letters, e-mails, and social media.

Through the years, the attorney election for the commissions has evolved into what’s largely viewed as a “plaintiffs versus defense” bar type of race. Trimble noted that when he started practicing in the early 1980s and into the ’90s, the biggest law firms would pool their votes and back one person. That hasn’t happened in 15 to 20 years, though.

“With five people running, it will be interesting to see how votes fall and how this all turns out,” said Trimble, the LewisWagner partner who is wrapping up his time on the commission after starting in January 2008.

Most of the nominees have phoned Trimble to discuss what the commission does and how much time commitment is involved, and he thinks all are qualified and any one of the lawyers would be an excellent choice.

Kathy Osborn Osborn

Traditionally, attorneys do some campaigning for the spot and that’s involved writing letters, calling colleagues, and just mentioning their interest and the vote possibility in casual conversation.

Trimble said he didn’t make phone calls or send brochures when he was seeking the position, but he did ask select attorneys, friends, and law firms in central Indiana to e-mail co-workers to let them know about his running. He described his as a “somewhat organized” effort, not a highly organized e-mail or phone campaign. He said the defense bar has been more word-of-mouth, while he’s observed the plaintiffs bar sends letters and pamphlets outlining a person’s biography and qualifications, and particular endorsements.

In responses about that campaigning, the five nominees offered different answers about how they’re handling it. Most are relying on word-of-mouth to some degree, with that level varying with each person and some asking fellow attorneys and law firms to spread the word.

Schumm said he isn’t sending letters or placing any ads, but he is relying on e-mail and word-of-mouth.

Hennessy said he hadn’t considered campaigning and even declined the attorney-contact CD offered as a resource, but he may do letters and rely on word-of-mouth because he’s being urged to campaign.

Carroll said she’s also contacting colleagues and using her personal contacts from her days as a reporter, and she’s considering a letter after receiving one herself from another nominee.

Winingham said he’s called colleagues and sent a letter explaining his interest and summarizing his qualifications.

Osborn indicated she had the most organized and systematic approach in contacting lawyers and law firms, and she also sent letters to all of the county bar associations in 2nd District. Her firm, Baker & Daniels, sent a news release – and posted it online – about her interest, and she said her friends and colleagues are using social media to further campaign efforts.

Joel Schumm mug Schumm

“I’m not sure that (level of campaigning) was there in previous years,” Carroll said. “Every lawyer is looking for someone who is truly neutral and has the experience and background to make good decisions. For me, the function of these letters is to say, ‘Hey, there’s an election, so be alert and cast your ballot.’”

Ballots and biographies will be mailed Oct. 12 to attorneys’ homes by the Indiana Appellate Clerk’s Office, and attorneys must return the ballots by 4 p.m. Nov. 10. The ballots will be counted at 10 a.m. Nov. 12, according to a clerk’s office notice. During the 2007 election process for that district, the clerk’s office sent 6,616 ballots to attorneys and 1,678 were returned – a 25 percent return response. The clerk’s office expects to send 7,092 ballots this time.

Hennessy said he wasn’t aware of any practicing criminal defense attorney being on the commission, as most practice on the civil side.

Osborn noted that the commission selection has often been cast as “plaintiff’s versus defense bar races” and that has disenfranchised a large portion of the practicing bar. She also emphasized that women make up more than 50 percent of the bar, but no female lawyer has ever been on the commission since it was created in 1970. Women have been on the commission in the past and there’s one currently, but all have been non-attorneys chosen by the governor. Evansville resident Christine Keck – who is director of strategy and business development for renewable energy at Energy Systems Group in Newburgh – is the commission’s only woman and her term also expires in December.

Winningham-Bill-mug Carroll

“The disappointing fact that Indiana only ever has had one female Supreme Court justice, and currently has none, is an historical one that goes to the cumulative decisions that have been made over nearly two centuries,” Osborn said, noting that Boone Circuit Judge Steven David’s recent appointment to the high court isn’t to blame. ”I am interested in serving on the Judicial Nominating Commission in part because I believe the fact that there has never been a female attorney on that commission could be one factor of many that has impacted historical nominating and appointment decisions.”

All cited their interest in judicial ethics and the nominating process, and the larger issue of making sure the judiciary remains strong.

Hennessy said he’s observed a decline in court sessions starting on time and overall civility toward lawyers and litigants, and he wants to see greater exposure and transparency, as well as increased sensitivity and early intervention on judicial-stress issues.

Trimble said that it’s most important for the candidates to remember and understand that 95 percent of the work the commissions do involves judicial qualifications issues that come before them, including the selection and appointment of senior judges.

“This is interesting and challenging work, and it’s certainly something I’ve generally enjoyed and would describe as a life-changing experience,” he said.•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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