DTCI: Note from the defense - Stop the 'unnecessary roughness'

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dtci-mortimer-reneeI was told that I had to write an article when I became a member of the board of directors of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana. When I asked what the topic was to be, I was told, “Anything you want!” OK. Now what? What do I want to say to my colleagues in Indiana? Should I write a case note? No. There are too many of those already out there. Should I write a perspective from a lawyer from “the Region?” No.

We need to annihilate those boundaries, not enforce them. What about an article on electronic discovery or the Medicare/Medicaid issues? No. We have all either given those lectures or attended them over and over again. I was at a loss. What do I want to say to everyone out there?

As I was pondering this daunting task, I was buzzed by our receptionist. “Prominent plaintiff lawyer” was on the phone for me. (I have removed his name to protect him from jabs from his colleagues for being too nice to a defense lawyer.) I wondered why he was calling me, as we don’t currently have a case together. It turns out that he had a case with one of my partners and just thought he would call me to see how I was doing, as we had not spoken in a while. We had a nice chat and hung up. I thought how nice that call was – and how rare. It then hit me that I had found what I wanted to say to all of you.

While I am sure this writing could be deemed just another one that promotes civility, and while I am sure that there is a long list of ethical rules that promote that, too, I cite none here. I simply say this: Stop the (to use a football phrase) “unnecessary roughness.” I am hereby throwing a “flag on the play.”

I am definitely not saying to stop being fierce advocates for our clients. We all lose sleep at night, thinking about our cases, making sure that we are doing the best we can for our clients. (I wish the sleeplessness would end, but after 21 years of the practice of law, I know it won’t.) Unfortunately, some of us on both sides of the “v.” are also lawyers who cannot seem to handle a case without making other counsel on the case simply miserable. These lawyers seem to think that is part of their duty to their clients. I disagree.

Being disrespectful to the court or counsel does not help your case. Nor do endless multipage letters that voice baseless objections or accusations. I certainly know that my clients won’t pay for this type of activity and want me to devote my time to the pertinent issues of the case. Yes, it is part of the job to argue and to advocate, but do not do it at the expense of professional courtesy.

I am encouraged by my “prominent plaintiff lawyer” colleague. I hope this trend continues. Our parents told us to treat others as we would like to be treated, so I hereby remind you all of that, without citing to any legal authority. I say our jobs are hard enough. Please just do the right thing and don’t add unneeded roughness to our lives and yours under the cloak of advocacy. It will make all of our professional lives much better.

There is my message. Have a good day.•

Ms. Mortimer is a member of the DTCI Board of Directors and is a partner in the Schererville office of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues