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Blomquist: The Hon. Robyn Moberly, Indiana's First Female Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge

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blomquist-kerryAnyone who knows me well knows a few key things about me: I’m a “runner,” though post age 50, I use that term very loosely. I have a dysfunctional relationship with Miracle Whip, of which I am not proud but as substances go, it seems relatively harmless. In my former professional life I was an “electronic journalist” (read “radio-TV reporter”). Riveting, I know.

Finally, I am an unapologetic believer in, and admirer of, women lawyers. Young female lawyers out there have some amazingly strong role models to look to and to learn from, if they pay attention and ask the important questions. Thus, taking full advantage of items three and four above, this column is to congratulate, honor and pick the brain of Indiana’s first female federal bankruptcy court judge, the Honorable Robyn Moberly. Special thanks for her candor, wit and leadership.

On how it feels…

“I feel like the luckiest person in the world! As is often said, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. But, career opportunities are a lot about timing and about things outside of one’s control. I know I was prepared for this opportunity, but you never know when, or if, it might happen.

You also have the variable of who is making the ultimate decision on your future. You may or may not ‘click’ with that person. There are many people well qualified for most jobs but only one person gets it, so it has to depend upon whether the decision-makers feel a good connection with you and whether you’re on your toes the day of the interview. I feel quite fortunate that the stars aligned for me.”

On “the learning curve” of a new position...

“I have tackled this new learning curve just as I did when I was first elected to the state trial bench and was assigned to a criminal court. I read everything I can get my hands on, and each time a new issue comes before me, I learn it thoroughly because I know it will come up again and again. Lawyers will forgive you if you don’t know the answer the first time when you’re new, but they expect you to learn it and get it right.

I have a wonderfully smart law clerk, Pat Marshall, who worked for Judge Metz for 16 years. As Judge Metz said, Pat was his gift to me. She and I have already developed a good friendship and working relationship. My years as a state trial judge have been a big advantage too. It’s surprising how similar being a bankruptcy judge and being a state trial judge are.”

On the attainability of the federal bench for women…

“The Southern District of Indiana has proven to be increasingly open to women. During my career, I’ve noticed that issues reach a tipping point, and then quickly become the norm. Jobs that were outside the reach of women rather have suddenly become widely attainable and no longer a novelty. Certainly the strength of the females on the federal bench before me opened the door for all women.

On the issue of gender equity in the profession of law…1

“I wish I had the answer! I’ve met with members of several firms who are trying very hard to figure this one out themselves. I believe there is a sincere desire to recruit and retain talented women but the law firm model almost exclusively rewards hours billed and collected. I’ve noticed that young male attorneys are changing their attitudes toward time with their families, so it’s surely an issue that is beginning to cross the genders. As more women are the decision-makers in business, they are hiring female attorneys. When you’re the rainmaker, you’re in control. I’d really encourage women to learn practice development skills because when you own the book of business, you can name the tune.”

On this being (perhaps) the position she will retire from….

“I read a funny quote from Chris Rock where he said that girlfriends are always auditioning, trying to be their best, all of the time.  But, wives are like Supreme Court Justices: they do whatever the heck they want. 2

I think it’s useful to spend one’s career ‘auditioning’ and being the best you can be on each individual day. Even though I’m now writing the last chapter of my career, I hope I’ll always be ‘auditioning’ and never feel ‘entitled.

_______________

1 Current ABA President Laurel Bellows has made this a focus of her year as president, noting the troubling statistic that although woman account for nearly half of law students and hold more than half of this nation’s judicial clerkships, the percentage of women equity partners is holding static at 16 percent or less.

2 Two things on this from the author: 1) men do it too 2) it is difficult at best to propose legislation that will affect this.  

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. 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.

  5. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

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