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Attorneys general at the state fair

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There are only a few days left to experience corndogs, lemon shakeups, deep-fried butter, doughnut hamburgers, a ride on the Ferris wheel, the various farm animals brought to Indianapolis by 4-H members from around Indiana, and other attractions of the Indiana State Fair.

While some things are new this year – a show featuring bears and an exhibit that explores the culture of Japan, for instance – one that most fairgoers will likely not even notice is the recently enhanced partnership between the state attorney general’s office and the state fair.

For the duration of this year’s fair, two deputy attorneys general from the Advisory and ADR Services Division have been at the fair for part of the time, and were on call at other times just in case they were needed for potential legal situations.

Fair Ann Mullin O’Connor (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Anne Mullin O’Connor and Susan Gard had worked with the fair in the past, but after the person who was handling contracts for the fair left, the fair worked out an agreement with the AG’s office instead of hiring someone to replace that full-time employee.

The fair also split that former employee’s duties among other offices, but this solution was a creative way for the state to save some money, O’Connor said, adding she has enjoyed being able to work with and at the fair this summer.

Part of the job Gard and O’Connor took on was to help improve and streamline the fair’s contracts, something executive director Cindy Hoye said has always been a priority.

With the thousands of contracts the fair handles every year having to do with vendors, exhibitors, the midway, animals, performers, and others, she said much attention must be paid to the details.

“For the contracts we issue, those are updated all the time,” she said. “We believe our business approach is that we are doing a great job, and we can always do better. … We usually discover something that gives us cause to pause on some use of terminology or how we could better word things to improve the process.”

And the contracts vary widely even for seemingly similar events, O’Connor said.

For instance, a concert with a band like KISS, who performed to a sold-out crowed of about 13,000 Aug. 9, would have different issues than Selena Gomez, who is known for her roles on Disney Channel shows and performed to a much different audience Aug. 15.

She said the contracts are probably more or less the same as any other concert, “but there just happens to be a fair going on around the concert.”

Hoye said the contracts for performers include fairly standard language, but include some fair-specific clauses including alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the fair grounds, and that performers need to be aware profanity is not encouraged.

“It’s not our intent to censor the performers, but we want them to be sensitive to the family-oriented nature of the fair,” she said, adding that someone who happens to be at the fair during a performance, but not actually sitting in the grandstands, might still overhear what the performers are saying.

She said the performers on the smaller stages have “boiled down” versions of the contracts of the grand-stand performers.

Other than contracts, Gard and O’Connor have been available to make sure safety precautions are followed in terms of how the animals are handled, and safety for the visitors – food preparation, midway rides – and to make sure Red Cross workers are handy in the event someone is overcome with heat-related illnesses.

“The No. 1 priority is to make sure customers and vendors and exhibitors and employees have a safe place to come and visit,” Hoye said. “That’s our No. 1 priority. After it’s safe, then we’ll entertain them.”

For instance, the fair has a 23-page booklet about the handling and care of animals, and a 43-page booklet for the fair’s biosecurity plan. The latter contains information about hand-washing stations, which are all over the fairgrounds, and directions about how to prepare and use bleach solution for cleaning when needed.

O’Connor said there is also a strong presence of state police and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers at the fair to keep an eye on things. While she said there typically isn’t much criminal activity at the fair, compared to other state fairs Indianapolis is in a more urban location, making it more accessible and more diverse than other state fairs.

She added the AG’s office would help handle any claims of slip-and-fall injuries. This would include a visit to the site of the reported incident to determine what happened and what would potentially need to be fixed to address those claims.

But Hoye and O’Connor said that the fair’s main purpose is to focus on the agricultural aspects of Indiana. This year’s focus is pork, but beyond that they said the fair strives to encourage a good atmosphere for Indiana residents to learn about farms and the animals, while giving 4-H participants and others a chance to share what they’ve done over the year.

But like any contest, there are rules to be followed – something Gard or O’Connor could be called in on. However, O’Connor said that most of the animal areas already have their own experts to act as mediators to handle most incidents.

And in the past when there have been problems involving contestants – mainly positive drug tests of the champions and/or random participants, or when the person presenting the animal isn’t the same person who raised the animal – there is an appeals process. But in most cases, that person will usually admit he got caught doing something wrong. Of all the contestants, there is maybe only one appeal per year, sometimes none, but usually no more than three.

Overall, O’Connor said she didn’t anticipate any major issues, and had nothing to report as of Aug. 13. She said with this job, “You never know where you’ll end up. That’s what makes it fun. It’s not like the standard state job where you’re at a desk all day.” •

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  1. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  2. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  3. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  4. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  5. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

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