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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. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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