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Letter to editor: Articles attack integrity

April 28, 2010
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Letters to the Editor

To the editor:


Over the course of my 41 years as a member of the Indiana bar, I have worked to help improve the justice system in Marion County and the state of Indiana. Many of those activities have involved working to uphold the integrity of the bench and bar. You can imagine my surprise, then, upon reading articles in the Indiana Lawyer, The Indianapolis Star, and the Indianapolis Business Journal falsely impugning my integrity and the integrity of our law firm.


Specifically, those articles suggested that an associate of this firm and I secured a sentence modification for Paula Willoughby in 2009 that was based on campaign contributions instead of the merits of this particular case. These suggestions are baseless and are the result of reckless journalism.


I represented Ms. Willoughby in her original trial in March of 1992. That trial ended in a mistrial, and I represented her in the re-trial in August of 1992. My involvement in Ms. Willoughby’s case ended in 1996, when the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed her conviction following appeal and reduced her sentence from 110 years to 70 years. I have had absolutely no involvement in her sentence modification whatsoever, contrary to the false suggestions in the reporting of this matter.


The insinuation that campaign contributions made by me and associate Jennifer Lukemeyer were improper and resulted in the modification is equally inaccurate. Over the course of my career, and as a Democrat, I have given to candidates of both parties in local, state, and national elections. In the last election for Marion County prosecutor, I made a donation to the campaigns of both Carl Brizzi and his opponent, Melina Kennedy. My motivation in making these and other donations has been to support well-suited candidates to improve our government. I have never made an improper donation or accepted an improper advantage from making a donation, and neither has Jennifer Lukemeyer. Suggestions to the contrary are false and could have been resolved with proper research.


There is a lengthy tradition of campaign support from members of the Indiana bar to candidates in local elections. Lawyers often have many interactions with local candidates, whereas the typical citizen has no interaction with local candidates. As a result, lawyers are often better informed to evaluate local candidates, and in many instances have been asked by those candidates to fund their campaigns. A number of years ago, I was a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association Board of Managers. We discussed, and I supported, establishing a blind trust for campaign contributions to judicial candidates. The idea was not embraced at the time. This idea is again being considered by the Indianapolis Bar Association and many others following the United States Supreme Court opinion in Caperton v. Massey, which addressed contributions to judicial candidates. While I continue to support the idea of establishing a blind trust, the contributions made by me and my associates were proper and had no bearing on the outcome of any case.


Readers of the articles covering the Willoughby case and several other cases should note that no effort was made by the media to disclose the merits of granting the requested relief. One such case was that of Guilford Forney, represented by Bruce Donaldson at Barnes & Thornburg. Mr. Donaldson has written an eloquent letter, published in the Indianapolis Business Journal and Indiana Lawyer detailing the specific deficiencies of the reporting in these cases. I agree with him when he wrote that the media has injured its own reputation and credibility as a reliable source of information as a result of these articles.

James H. Voyles Jr.
Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman, Indianapolis

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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