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Chickedantz assumes new role as ISBA president

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

In a 45-minute conversation with C. Erik Chickedantz, the accomplished lawyer and Vietnam veteran never boasted about his own accomplishments, although the many awards in his office are a testament to his service to Indiana’s legal profession.

Chickedantz, the new president of the Indiana State Bar Association, explained that years ago, Fort Wayne attorney Tom Yoder – who was bar president at the time – asked him to serve on the association’s board of governors as secretary. He’s been part of ISBA’s leadership ever since then, taking on increasingly more responsibility in the last decade.

chickedantz-15col.jpg C. Erik Chickedantz, new Indiana State Bar Association president, poses for a photo with his wife, Anita, in front of the Allen County Courthouse. (IL Photo/ Vincent Morretino)

“I can remember when Tom Yoder called me from Indianapolis and said, ‘Hey, Ace, we’ve nominated you to be the vice president,’” Chickedantz said. “My response to him was, you need to get somebody younger; I’m too old for that job. I’m 70 years old now – and I was 68 or 69 then – and I said you need to get some younger person with more energy. And he said, ‘I hate to tell you, this is a job you can’t say no to.’ So, anyway, I said, all right, let’s go with it.”

Going with it

Chickedantz, a partner with Hawk Haynie Kammeyer & Chickedantz, has been a member of the ISBA and Allen County Bar Association since 1972. He served as the ACBA president from 1994 to 1995, so he understands that at the local and state level, certain factors are necessary for the organization to thrive.

“The success of any bar association – the Allen County bar, or the state bar – is to provide value, so that people who are thinking about being a member, want to be a member. I’ve got to pay $280 a year – what do I get for this?”

Chickedantz said that in the next year, he thinks the bar will help more people understand the value of that membership. He cites Casemaker – an online legal research service provided free to ISBA members – as one of the most obvious benefits of membership.

“Lawyers anymore don’t go to the law library and pull out a law book and fiddle around like I used to do,” he said. He thinks law students and young lawyers, especially, could benefit from having free access to Casemaker as members of the bar.

“Law students can be members of the state bar – we give them a great deal. We’re looking to increase what I think is a fairly low participation to high participation. And … if I was going to be a solo practitioner and I was thinking about legal research, and I knew that as a member of the state bar association I could get this Casemaker benefit free – that’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Chickedantz said that while Indiana’s bar already has a participation rate of about 80 percent, he thinks that it could be higher. Looking to boost participation among law students and young lawyers is especially important to the longevity of the organization, he explained.

“We have a Young Lawyers Section, which is the largest section we have. If your young lawyers section is not a vibrant, active, energetic section, that does not bode well for the association,” he said. “We have really a terrific bunch of young lawyers, and law students are the farm system for the Young Lawyers Section. The Young Lawyers Section is the lifeblood of our association. We’re going to continue to focus on young people and try to convince them that an Indiana lawyer cannot afford not to be a member of the state bar association.”

Personal goals, personal life

One of Chickedantz’s big pushes is the bar’s new wellness committee (see related story on page 1).

“I’m not the prime example of wellness, but I believe in it,” he said. “Never smoked, and back in high school and college days, I was captain of the cross country team. At West Point, I ran all four years, ran track. And in the service, the airborne units, they’re big time into gung-ho exercise, so I did a lot of running there.”

Chickedantz graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1963 and then served in the Army for six years.

chickedantz-table.gif“I started out at infantry school, then airborne school, then ranger school, and then my first duty assignment was with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell (Ky.), and I was there for 18 months or so, and then got my first orders to Vietnam.” After receiving his orders, Chickedantz went through additional training at Fort Bragg (N.C.), and then went to language school in Monterey, Calif., where he studied basic Vietnamese. His first tour of duty began in 1966.

“I was an adviser with the Vietnamese Airborne Division – that’s their paratrooper division – and that was just a wonderful duty assignment, as a first lieutenant, and then as a captain. And then I came back home and went to Fort Benning (Ga.) for a while, and then up to Fort Bragg, with the 82nd Airborne Division, then back to Vietnam for a second tour.”

After returning from his second tour, Chickedantz knew he wanted to get out of the service, but he wasn’t sure what to do next. His inspiration came from a friend and fellow soldier.

“One of my best friends from West Point was a guy named Bob Mayer – we ran cross-country and track together, and during our first tour in Vietnam we were in locations where we could spend some time together. He came back and went through the JAG program and went to law school in the service, and then was an Army lawyer. He got out of the service, one thing led to another, and he is now a judge sitting on the Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

“When Bob was in law school and I was talking to him on the phone saying I’m thinking about getting out of the service, he said, ‘Well, you might wanna think about going to law school. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but you can use a law degree for all sorts of things.’”

Chickedantz enrolled in The University of Michigan Law School and graduated in 1971.

He and his wife Anita knew they wanted to stay in the Midwest. They had both grown up in Washington, Ind., where their romance began when Anita was in 7th grade and Chickedantz was a freshman. The couple had friends in Fort Wayne, so they decided to settle there and raise their family – two sons and two daughters.

Looking back, and forward

Beneath the broad windows overlooking the Allen County Courthouse, a ledge in Chickedantz’s office is a showcase for his many family photos. He has worked hard to get to where he is today, but not at the expense of his family – a simple principle that young lawyers should remember, he said.

“Particularly, if you have a family, you’ve got to look at other things in life. Have hobbies – working is not the key to success,” he said. “There are other things in life than simply trying to break your neck working. That’s not to say that working hard isn’t a good thing – it is – but you just can’t be working hard all the time.”

Chickedantz said he considers himself fortunate to be part of the ISBA, which has one of the largest participating memberships in the Midwest.

“And that’s not because of me, that’s because of our past board of governors, our past presidents,” he said.

Jeffry Lind, immediate past president of the ISBA, commented on why he thinks the ISBA will continue to thrive under Chickedantz’s leadership.

“Erik’s years of litigation and mediation experience combined with his vision of building the strength of leadership within the ISBA spells nothing but great things for the Indiana State Bar Association,” Lind said. “He is quiet, yet affable. A listener, yet a leader.  An honest critic, yet a good friend.”•

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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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