ILNews

Attorney’s death saddens legal community

Marilyn Odendahl
July 31, 2013
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russell Russell

The Indianapolis legal community is mourning the sudden death July 16 of attorney Joe Russell.

He was a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP and was a well-known and respected member of the Indianapolis bar. His career included both private practice and public service, and he was active in several community and professional associations.

Ron Walker, of counsel at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, described Russell’s death as “devastating.”

“The Indianapolis legal community has lost a real star,” Walker said. “This is the loss not only of a star but of an extraordinarily well-liked star.”

C. Joseph Russell graduated from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1980. Three years later, he was appointed to the post of assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. From 1985 to 1992, he served on the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.

He joined Krieg DeVault as a partner in 2009 where he focused his practice on white collar criminal defense and complex litigation.

“We are deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of our beloved and valued friend and partner,” said Michael E. Williams, managing partner at Krieg DeVault. “The Krieg DeVault family, and those that had the good fortune of knowing and working with Joe, will greatly miss his friendship and professionalism. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support.”

Outside of the office, Russell served in leadership capacities of the Hendricks County, Hamilton County and Indiana State bar associations as well as the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association. He was a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, serving as president in 1999, and a distinguished fellow with the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

“Joe was an absolute force in this organization,” said Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, current president of the Indianapolis Bar Association. “You would be hard pressed to find another leader in this organization’s 130-year history that had as much charisma, follow-through, and good common sense as Joe.”

At Blomquist’s request, Russell became chair of the Judicial Excellence Committee. She praised his incredible ethics, strength and straight-forward manner as providing invaluable leadership when the committee conducted judicial evaluations during election years.

“…I always appreciated his candor, humor and straight talk,” Blomquist said. “This loss to this legal community and this legal family is unimaginable.”

Walker got to know Russell through their work on the board of the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society. There, they both discovered they had each served in the U.S. Marines. Walker remembered that Russell would sometimes sign his name in emails as Lance Cpl. Russell.

Reflecting on their military experience, Walker noted the “Marines’ Hymn” includes lyrics about Marines guarding the streets of heaven.

“If that’s true,” Walker said, “Joe is out there on one of the streets in heaven taking care of traffic. I think he’d like that.”

Joe is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; son, Marc Russell; sister, Sara Edwards; and four nieces and nephews, Bryan and Kevin Beswick, and Bob and Meg Hammond.

His obituary describes him as a true patriot; a lover of history, especially all things dealing with the Civil War; and an avid hunter. He also never met a dog he did not like.•

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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