Domestic-violence victims advocate dies

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An attorney known for devoting time to work with domestic-violence victims and nonprofit organizations has died.

Deborah K. Hepler, 56, Carmel, died Oct. 5. She had suffered from breast cancer.

Hepler, born Nov. 8, 1952, in Mishawaka, is perhaps best known for founding the Protective Order Pro Bono Project of Greater Indianapolis in 2000. The program, now a part of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, is still going strong with advocates in Marion County Court and regular trainings. Hepler remained active with the project and at a training session in May, she discussed ethical issues for pro bono attorneys.

She graduated from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in 1994 and served as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

She also worked for Locke Reynolds in Indianapolis and had taught as an adjunct law professor at the Indianapolis law school. At the time of her death, she was general counsel for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

She was a member of the boards for the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence, Indiana Legal Services Inc., and the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis. She was also on the board of the Carmel Community Players.

In recognition of her efforts in the fight against domestic violence, she received the 2005 Alumna of the Year from the Indiana University School of Law Alumni Network, the 2005 Chancellor's Community Award for Excellence in Civil Engagement, and the 2001 Prelude to Light Award by the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis.

Hepler recently celebrated 37 years of marriage to her husband, Jay Hepler, who survives. Other survivors include children, Eric and Anne Hepler.

A celebration of her life will be at the Northside Knights of Columbus, 2100 E. 71st St., Indianapolis, Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m. Judge McKinney, along with family and friends, will share their memories about Hepler.

ILS Board president Paul A. Leonard Jr. said in a statement that Hepler's daughter has requested people wear purple or red - Hepler's favorite colors.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Protective Order Pro Bono Project of Greater Indianapolis through the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at (317) 917-3685.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.