Attorney killed by husband

IL Staff
August 27, 2010
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The man who committed suicide atop a parking garage in downtown Indianapolis Thursday afternoon behind Barnes & Thornburg earlier had killed his attorney wife in their Brownsburg home, police said.

Police discovered Mary Jane Frisby’s body in the home she shared with her husband, David Frisby. Police said she had been strangled.

Frisby-MaryJane-mug Frisby

According to the docket for Hendricks Superior Court, Mary Jane Frisby filed for divorce August 18. Frisby, 44, had worked at Barnes & Thornburg for 10 years before leaving Aug. 20. She was a former partner who practiced in the Intellectual Property Department.

“The Barnes & Thornburg family is deeply saddened by the tragic incidents that occurred Thursday, Aug. 26. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of our beloved former partner, Mary Jane Frisby. She will be missed by all of us. This is a very sad day for the firm,” the firm said in a statement.

She was scheduled to start work at Cummins on Monday in the corporate legal department. The company released a statement saying, "Everyone at Cummins is deeply saddened by the news of Mary Jane's tragic death. Mary Jane was a talented lawyer and we were looking forward to her joining our legal team. Our sympathies go out to her family and friends, especially to her two children."

Frisby was admitted to the bar in 2000 and taught two IP courses at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis in 2004 and 2006.

“The law school community at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis is shocked and saddened at the tragic loss of one of our well-known and well-loved graduates, who also taught as an adjunct professor here at the school. Mary Jane Frisby will be greatly missed,” the law school statement reads.

Those in the legal community were stunned to hear the news of her death.

“She was a consummate professional, who knew the issues so well to advocate for her clients but never stopped treating opposing counsel with respect,” said IP attorney Jim Dimos with Frost Brown Todd, who’d worked with Frisby on copyright cases during the past decade. “What was so refreshing about Mary Jane was that she was very knowledgeable and was willing to share that knowledge through CLE or informally between colleagues. You could always call her up and bounce ideas or issues off of her.”

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Larry McKinney couldn’t believe the news about a woman who’d interned for him a semester more than a decade ago.

“She was just excellent, so bright,” he said. “Really, Mary Jane was a scholar and excellent researcher who was really intrigued by the law and you could just tell loved it so much. This is just incomprehensible.”

Police responded to a parking garage directly behind Barnes & Thornburg around 3 p.m. Thursday after receiving several calls of shots fired. Several witnesses told police they saw an individual, who was later identified as David Frisby, on the eighth floor of the parking garage armed with two handguns.

"He fired a couple indiscriminate shots in the air" before turning a gun on himself, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police spokesman Lt. Jeff Duhamell said. After shooting himself, David Frisby fell several stories to the sidewalk below.

In Indianapolis, businesses near the shooting suicide - including Barnes & Thornburg - were temporarily on lock down until police could determine if David Frisby was acting alone. Two of David Frisby’s shots hit the external walls of Barnes & Thornburg’s building.

Laura Berry Berman, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said “We’re deeply saddened at the loss of a prominent community leader and unfortunately this shows that domestic violence affects all individuals regardless of socio-economic status or education.”

Reflecting on what happened, Dimos said he’s proud to have been able to know and work with Mary Jane Frisby.

“This reminds all of us how life is truly so fragile,” he said.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.