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Daily News -- Sept. 25, 2013 issue

September 23, 2013
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Friends and family honor IBF Legendary Lawyer Henry Ryder

The reception honoring retired Indianapolis attorney Henry Ryder included lots of stories.

About 120 friends, family and colleagues gathered at the downtown office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP to recognize Ryder on his selection to receive the Indiana Bar Foundation’s 2013 Legendary Lawyer Award.

ryder Ryder

Before Ryder was presented with the plaque, attorneys told stories about how they met him, different aspects of his life, his ability to sing Purdue University’s Alma Mater and how he convinced them to serve on boards.

They also acknowledged his distinguished career. Samuel “Chic” Born said as an attorney Ryder was known from the Ohio River to the shores of Lake Michigan and up and down the banks of the Wabash.

“You’re a successful man. You’re an honorable man. You’re a good and faithful servant,” Born said. “I’m glad you’re my friend.”

Ryder practiced law for 54 years before retiring a partner and of counsel at Barnes & Thornburg. In 1960, he and William Roberts founded the firm Roberts & Ryder where Ryder focused his practice on labor and employment law.

Along with practicing law, Ryder served as a trustee for Purdue University and Hanover College and he helped found PRIDE (Peaceful Response to Indianapolis Desegregated Education), an organization whose mission was to bring equal opportunity into schools during the desegregation era.

Ryder’s son, David, an attorney in Washington state, told stories detailing the adventures of growing up in the Ryder household. He pointed out that stories – myths even – can build up around individuals dubbed “legends,” but his dad stands up to the scrutiny.

“I’m so proud of you dad and proud to call you my dad,” he said.

 AG seeks to reinstate misconduct charges against former IURC chief

The former head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission could again face criminal charges in connection with his alleged actions surrounding Duke Energy’s Edwardsport power plant in 2010.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Sept. 9 that his office has filed an appeal to the dismissal of official misconduct charges against David Lott Hardy. The attorney general is asking the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the official misconduct charges against Hardy and reinstate them.

zoeller-greg.jpg Zoeller

Zoeller’s office argued that the Marion County Superior Court was wrong in ruling that the 2012 amendment to Indiana’s misconduct statute was retroactive.

“We respect the trial court but contend its ruling is incorrect, the 2012 change is not retroactive and the defendant can and should face charges under the law in effect in 2010,” Zoeller stated in a press release. “We ask the Court of Appeals to reinstate the charges so that the trial can proceed and a verdict can be rendered.”

Hardy’s attorney David Hensel, of Pence Hensel LLC, could not be reached for comment.

Hardy was indicted by a Marion County grand jury in 2011 on four counts of Class D felony official misconduct. He was accused of lobbying Duke Energy to hire then IURC administrative law judge Scott Storms, and of having ex parte communications with the power company about the Edwardsport plant in 2010.

On Aug. 12, Marion Superior Judge William Nelson granted Hardy’s motion to dismiss all charges. Nelson held the Indiana General Assembly’s changes to the criminal official misconduct statute which became effective July 1, 2012, were meant to be retroactive.

Man who bilked banks of $10 million sentenced

A southern Indiana man who defrauded Indiana banks of more than $10 million by supplying bogus financial information from family members to obtain multi-million-dollar loans for real estate, an airplane and a yacht will spend five years in federal prison.

Todd Van Natta of Seymour and Columbus also was ordered to pay almost $7 million in restitution after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of bank fraud and two counts of tax fraud. U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence of the Southern District of Indiana imposed sentence.

Van Natta was the president and manager of the Seymour-based Van Natta Asset Management, LLC, along with a variety of related companies, according to a statement from the office of Joe Hogsett, U.S. attorney for the Southern District. Van Natta’s company was involved in commercial and residential real estate projects, as well as the aviation business.

Van Natta was accused in July of devising a scheme to defraud financial institutions from 2007 to 2009, obtaining large sums of money by preparing and submitting numerous false documents to banks throughout central and southern Indiana, including local financial institutions headquartered in Bartholomew, Decatur, Washington, Morgan and Monroe counties.

The documents included tax returns and were used to obtain loans, including two loans of more than $3 million for property in Evansville and multiple parcels in Fort Wayne, as well as a $2.1 million bank note for properties in Seymour. He also got bogus six-figure loans to buy a 1970 Cessna Aircraft and a 2007 Fantasy yacht, according to Hogsett’s office.

Van Natta also defrauded a Utah resident of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming he owned an airplane listed for sale.

The government has moved to seize Van Natta’s assets gained by criminal activity. Senior litigation counsel Steven D. DeBrota and Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryAnn Mindrum prosecuted the case that resulted from an investigation that included the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.  

Judge: Suit challenging Marion County judicial slating may proceed

A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that has given rise to the Democratic and Republican slating system under which Marion Superior judges are elected will go forward.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana this month denied a motion to dismiss brought by state officials and interests named in a suit brought by Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Common Cause, a nonpartisan group whose mission is to promote open, honest government and voting rights, seeks an injunction against enforcement of Indiana Code 33-33-49-13. The suit says that law, which sets forth the process for electing judges in the Marion Superior Courts, is “unique in Indiana, and perhaps in the nation.”

“Common Cause has Article III and prudential standing to bring its claim; the Defendants are not immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment; and Common Cause states a plausible claim for relief,” Young wrote in the Sept. 6 order.

Slating of Marion Superior judge races has drawn criticism because each candidate who earned the party’s endorsement on the primary ballot paid identical amounts to the county party before his or her party’s slating convention prior to the primary. For Democrats, the contribution was $13,100; for Republicans, it was $12,000, according to a review of campaign contributions last year by Indiana Lawyer.  

The statute all but guarantees an equal split of Marion Superior judgeships for Democratic and Republican candidates. For the current 20 judgeships, each party may nominate 10 candidates for the general election, and voters may select 10 from each party. Unslated candidates rarely win, and Young noted that while candidates may run as independents or as third-party candidates, no one has since 2002.

Young’s ruling rejected state arguments to remove parties to the case and that the complaint was of a type more appropriately addressed in the Legislature. In rejecting the state’s argument on standing, he wrote, “Instead, Common Cause brings a constitutional challenge involving its members’ and other Marion County voters’ First Amendment right to cast a meaningful vote for Marion Superior Court judge.”

The state’s argument on failure to state a claim also was unpersuasive. “Although Indiana’s ballot access statute … has been found constitutionally adequate … the court is not convinced that the statute’s constitutionality with respect to a candidate’s access to the ballot applies here with equal force, where the claim is not ballot access, but whether a citizen’s vote in the general election matters.”•
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ...

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