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Chinn: Why I Want to Be Like Judge Darden When I Grow Up (and You Should Too) or … Why Julie Armstrong Loves Carr Darden

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iba-chinn-scottI was pleased to have been invited on July 25 to provide a few remarks on behalf of the Indianapolis Bar Association on the occasion of the retirement of Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Carr L. Darden at a ceremony held in the Indiana Supreme Court. There were about a dozen speakers that offered remarks about Judge Darden, his career and his family. Judge Darden has served on the Indiana Court of Appeals for 18 years and served as a Marion Superior Judge and Marion Municipal Court Judge before his appointment to the appellate bench.

For those of you who weren’t there, I wish you could have been. Reflecting on the career and works of Judge Darden through the observations of the many speakers and Judge Darden’s own remarks provided one of those opportunities that one gets from time to time to chant a mantra to oneself without hyperbole or irony to the effect: “lawyers make a difference, good people can win in the end, the world isn’t going explode soon.”

Suffice it to say, Judge Darden was presented with many accolades and gifts. The IndyBar, as has become its custom for these occasions, will prepare a written biographical history of the judge’s career to be posted both at indybar.org and on Wikipedia. Here are the remarks I delivered at the ceremony.

Chief Judge Robb, may it please the Court,

On behalf of the more than 5,000 members of the Indianapolis Bar Association, I want to extend my congratulations to you, Judge Darden, on your stellar judicial career and for your public service.

Judge Darden was appointed to the court of appeals the year I became a lawyer, so I never had the chance to appear in front of him as a trial judge. I did however argue appellate cases to him, and what I can testify to about that experience is his uncanny ability to ask probing questions accompanied with a quizzical expression forcing the advocate to put up or shut up – but doing so without conveying any hint of meanness or superiority. In that way, his judicial temperament has seemed completely in the service of his role to get it right and do justice.

But Carr Darden has been more than more than just a good judge. He has been a leader in the profession. In 2004, Judge Darden received the Paul H. Buchanan Award of Excellence – the highest award the Indianapolis Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Foundation can give a lawyer for service to the bar and profession. For those achievements, he is simply the standard by which others are measured.

My mention of these successes is necessarily summary. And other speakers will more ably extol Judge Darden’s many virtues. So, I want to focus my comments with a brief anecdote. The Indianapolis Bar Association’s signature event each year is its Bench-Bar conference held in June. This year, the 19th annual conference was held in French Lick. On the day the conference began, IndyBar Executive Director Julie Armstrong and I were staffing the registration desk when Judge Darden approached us. He strolled up to us wearing blue jeans and wearing his trademark grin and friendly disposition. Characteristically, he was checking in with us earlier than most others – taking the time to know the lay of the land at the conference, as he would be one of our panelists on the criminal law track during the second day.

As Judge Darden later walked away from the desk, I vividly recall Julie saying spontaneously, “I love Carr Darden.” Now Julie has been a bar executive for more than 20 years and is recognized by her peers to be one of the leading executives in the country. So, I take her exclamation not as indicative of a school girl crush – although you might not want to dismiss that possibility, Your Honor. Rather, I think what Julie was trying to sum up in those words was what bar leaders know about Judge Darden:

that he embodies the best spirit of advancing the relationship between bench and bar;

that he is equally comfortable in blue jeans compared to his judicial robe, which makes him approachable and instructive to senior lawyers and young lawyers alike; and

that in his personal interactions, he gives you the sense that he wants the best from you and also the best for you.

For all those reasons, I am able to say on behalf of the Indianapolis Bar Association, “we love Carr Darden.” Congratulations judge.•

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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