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Bicycling barristers

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For the past three years, Brett Miller has been riding his bicycle to and from work – a round trip of 44 miles. “At first, it was just to see if I could do it,” he said.

Miller, a partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis, generally leaves his house around 5:15 a.m. From his Geist neighborhood northeast of Indianapolis, he winds his way down paths and roads to his downtown office in about an hour. After handing off his bike to the parking garage valet, he hits the showers, exchanging bike clothes for work clothes before the workday begins.

biking Indianapolis attorney Howard Cohen leads a 21-mile group ride on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cohen, 58, calls his Cervélo bicycle a “pretty heavy-duty serious bike for an old guy like me.” (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Miller, 52, is among a growing number of attorneys who are leaving their cars at home and biking to their daily destinations. Some are new to cycling, and some have been riding for decades. But what they all have in common is a desire to stay in shape.

Fitness and fresh air

Miller said he used to run regularly for exercise, but over time, his knees began to deteriorate.

“Guys that were like me, that ran, are getting old,” Miller said. He said that cycling allows him to get a great workout without doing further damage to his knees. “I run maybe once a quarter now.”

Goshen attorney Joseph Lehman ran competitively when he was younger. He ran in the first Honolulu Marathon in 1974 and has competed in the Boston, New York and Chicago marathons. Lehman, 61, still jogs about seven miles every morning before he hops on his bike for his 10-minute commute to work.

Lehman bikes at a leisurely pace along the Mill Race Trail to get to his solo office. He calls the trail and its view of the canal “the best part of Goshen.”

“I think it’s so important to get out of cars and outside,” Lehman said.

Greenwood attorney Tim Riffle used to get his outdoor time as a coach for his son’s Little League Baseball team. But once his son started middle school and gave up Little League, “I found I had 15 to 20 hours a week I wasn’t spending on extracurricular sports,” he said. So Riffle decided that he would stay active by riding to his downtown office – a round trip of about 28 miles.

Fort Wayne attorney Charles Bash, 61, said he covers about 20 to 25 miles during an average warm-weather ride. His first 100-mile ride – or “century,” in bicycle terminology – was in 1976. “I did at least one century a year for 33 years after that,” he said.

Bash had heart surgery in 2009 and said he noticed he lost a lot of strength after the operation. Even so, he logged 5,217 total miles outdoors in 2010, and he plans to ride another century sometime this year.

Joining the bike-to-work movement, Hans Steck began riding to work about three or four years ago as part of a long-term overall fitness plan.

“It’s great for two reasons: you get a good deal of exercise commuting back and forth, and it helps me lower the carbon footprint that I’m putting out there.”

Steck, a partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis, said since he began exercising regularly eight years ago, he’s lost between 85 and 90 pounds. Cycling, he explained, is one component of his overall fitness plan.

Logistics

Riffle, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg’s Indianapolis office, said the firm provides lockers and shower facilities in the building’s workout room. He keeps a couple of changes of clothes downtown and swaps his briefcase for a backpack on days he rides.

Bingham McHale also offers showers along with secure valet parking for bicycles. That has made the decision to commute to the downtown office via bicycle more convenient for at least 10 of the firm’s attorneys.

Miller rides almost year-round, unless snow and ice make commuting impossible. Typically, he doesn’t ride to work if the temperature drops below 20 degrees, but he said the technological advances in cycling gear can make cold temperatures bearable. “In other words, buy a good jacket,” he said.

Miller said if he rides his bike to work and needs to leave the office midday to meet with a client, he may ask to borrow a car from a colleague. But, he said, his clients tend to appreciate his commitment to cycling, and if they know he rode to work, they may offer to come to his office.

Lehman, however, can often be seen pedaling through the streets of Goshen during the workday.

“I’ll go out in my work clothes during the day, in my long pants,” Lehman said. “For an office person, it’s great to get away from the office during the workday.”

Networking

biking Bryan Collins (left) and Brett Miller (right), partners at Bingham McHale, make use of the building’s valet bicycle parking. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Howard Cohen, member attorney at Frost Brown Todd’s Indianapolis office, leads a 21-mile group ride on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. He lives in downtown Indianapolis and thought he’d enjoy getting a group together that would ride from downtown, to the northeast side, and back to the starting point. “I also do it to force myself to ride,” he said.

Other attorneys sometimes join Cohen’s group – Miller may ride along with them on his way home. Although, Miller explained that he typically combines a little business with pleasure – riding to work with one client and home with another.

Cohen observed that cycling gives lawyers a chance to interact with their clients in a new way.

“Obviously, when we were younger, the thing that people did was play golf with clients … and I think some of us have done that with cycling,” Cohen said. “Both have a little social aspect to it.”

He said that once a year, he goes on an out-of-state bike retreat with business associates. “It’s the kind of thing that people used to do only with golf,” he said.

Miller has ridden with many different groups throughout Indianapolis and in doing so has broadened his network of social and business contacts.

“There’s a lot of collegiality to riding,” Miller said.

The big rides

Many serious cyclists in Indiana have participated in some of the state’s large annual rides like the Hilly Hundred and Ride across Indiana (RAIN). RAIN cyclists start the day in Terre Haute and ride 160 miles to Richmond. In 2007, Miller finished the RAIN in 7 hours and 43 minutes – the 97th finisher in a field of 1,002.

Riffle said he has ridden the Hilly Hundred. “But generally, I’m a solo kind of guy,” he said.

Bash used to participate in the Hilly Hundred, but he stopped years ago, due to safety concerns.

“It’s not that tough,” Bash said about the three-day ride. But he said inexperienced cyclists often rode recklessly, with little regard for the possibility of car traffic on the roads. “They go down there and pretend to be Lance Armstrong without knowing what they’re doing.”

He said he and his wife participate in the PALM (Pedal across Lower Michigan) event, which covers about 280 miles in six days. They also ride in Michigan’s annual Shoreline West Bicycle Tour, which offers riders the option of covering 500 miles in nine days, 343 miles in six days, or 160 miles in three days. Bash rides the nine-day course, and his wife joins him to ride the last three days.

For those interested, Bash added, tours in varying price ranges exist.

Extreme biking

This June, Steck plans to participate in his second consecutive The Denver Post Ride the Rockies tour. Riders cover 412 miles and 22,000 feet of vertical ascent over six days as they weave through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, from Crested Butte to Georgetown.

Miller has been on a similar adventure, riding in seven days from Durango, Colo., to Moab, Utah. The rugged trail covers 215 miles of secondary dirt roads. Steep ascents and rapid changes in temperature challenge riders, who camp each night in modular units installed by San Juan Hut Systems. The company offers similarly remote and challenging adventures for hikers, skiers, horseback riders, and hunters.

“I’ve done rides just about everywhere,” Miller said. He plans to take his GT mountain bike back to Crested Butte in August for another seven-day trip.

Closer to home, Riffle routinely rides his bike from Greenwood to Bloomington on weekends – about a three-hour trip, he said. And it was there last year that Riffle discovered a city street can be just as deadly as a slippery mountain pass.

At about 9 a.m. on May 19, 2010, Riffle said he “had an unfortunate incident with a pickup driver.” An inattentive truck driver veered off the road and struck Riffle on his bicycle. The accident was the same day as the Ride of Silence, when cyclists around the country ride in memory of those who have been killed or injured while riding.

“I wound up missing 12 days of work – I had a crushed vertebrae in my spine,” he said. Doctors put 14 screws in his back to repair the damage.

But two months later, he bought a new bike, climbed back on, and he still rides regularly.

“I guess I would say be careful, and it would be nice if we had any painted bike lines south of Washington Street,” he added.

And it looks like Riffle may get his wish. On April 18, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced that in May, construction will begin on 35.52 miles of new bike lanes, which his office says will extend from “county line to county line.”•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

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