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. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

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  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

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