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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. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  2. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  3. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  4. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  5. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

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