ILNews

Letter to editor: Articles attack integrity

April 28, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
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

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

ADVERTISEMENT