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DTCI to promote civility, opposing 'anti-lawyer' sentiments

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Terre Haute attorney Scott M. Kyrouac wants to advance civility between plaintiffs and defense lawyers, and plans to advocate against “anti-lawyer legislation” that may be lodged against the legal community.

These are two of the main goals that the 25-year attorney embraces as the new president of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana. He will be the 44th person to hold that position when his term begins at the start of 2011.
 

kyrouac Kyrouac

“We’re ambassadors for the legal profession and need to do what we can to advance civility among all attorneys we practice with,” said Kyrouac, who takes the reigns of an organization that boasts about 700 members and is considered to be one of the strongest of its kind in the country. “Too often, it seems there’s a tendency among attorneys to tear another attorney down in order make themselves look better.”

A 1985 graduate of what’s now Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Kyrouac practices at law firm Wilkinson Goeller Modesitt Wilkinson & Drummy and focuses on personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability, and various other types of defense litigation.

Indianapolis attorney Tom Schultz, a past president of the DTCI who serves as the organization’s state representative, says that Kyrouac’s leadership as a trial attorney and devotion to the practice overall make him a good fit for the presidency this next year. His experience looking at other similar defense organizations from other states shows him that Indiana has one of the strongest in the country because of its legislative lobby, an active amicus committee, and so many in-depth committees serving members.

In turn, all of those areas are priorities that Kyrouac has his sights on during his presidency.

Working with attorneys from outside Indiana during the past year, Kyrouac says he’s witnessed firsthand how civil Hoosier attorneys are compared to others from outside the state. But that doesn’t mean the practicing attorneys here are immune from hostile sentiments.

“Even though we may be mostly civil, we have to be careful” that lawyers here don’t end up behaving in uncivil ways, he said. “That is contrary to the goals our chief justice has set forth for the Indiana bar, and I think we need to promote those ideals more aggressively.”

Kyrouac is interested in advocating for legislation that promotes general civility in the legal community as well as against what he calls “anti-lawyer legislation” targeting specific segments of the practicing bar and their clientele.

For example, he refers to legislation proposed in 2010 that would have raised the penalty for failing to accept qualified settlement offers from $1,000 to $5,000 that, in essence, he sees as keeping more litigants out of court. He’s also concerned about any legal services tax that might be used in this coming budget-setting session to try and raise additional revenue and would push the DTCI to oppose that.

“I’m a strong believer in the jury system and am opposed to any anti jury trial or anti-lawyer legislation that truly takes away from our system and eliminates people’s ability to find a lawyer or get their cases heard in court,” he said. “That’s contrary to the principles of our Constitution and we all need to be on guard against it. You’ll find that my trial lawyer experience is what sets me apart from a typical DTCI mouthpiece.”

Aside from those two main priorities, Kyrouac hopes to also improve and further develop the DTCI’s website so that it’s more interactive and user-friendly for members and the public. He’s interested in seeing the organization’s Indiana Civil Litigation Review more accessible to members online as well as possible brief banks that could provide value to members to review or cite in their own cases.

He wants to continue developing each of the association’s sections, especially the paralegal section that he views as too often being an afterthought in the defense practice despite paralegals possessing the ability to make law firms more cost efficient.

All of that means continuing what his predecessors such as Indianapolis attorney Mary Reeder have done to pave the way for his presidency, Kyrouac said. He’s also looking forward to the 45-year anniversary next year that will be marked by the annual seminar in French Lick in mid-November. For 2011, the new president hopes more vendor relationships can be established to help keep down member costs, and he would like to see a strengthening of the organization’s educational efforts.

Getting these goals accomplished means being mindful of DTCI’s biggest challenge currently and in the year to come: the economy and financial concerns.

“Lawyers have been hit hard by the recession and are suffering as much as other people in Indiana. We find we have to watch our budgets and efficiently spend our membership dollars,” Kyrouac said, noting that he plans to continue focusing on efforts such as the organization’s amicus brief writing and advocacy efforts on appellate court issues.

“I’m grateful for what’s been done and I want to continue getting involved in cases and being a resource for our members the best we can.”

Joining him in leadership roles, Reeder takes on the past-president title while Lonnie D. Johnson of Bloomington is president-elect, Jerry E. Huelat of Michigan City is vice president, James D. Johnson of Evansville is secretary, and Thomas C. Hays of Indianapolis is treasurer.•

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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