Safety in the legal world

July 9, 2008
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The recent abduction of an Anderson attorney by his client raised an issue I don’t see discussed much – the safety risks of working in the legal field. Attorneys and judges work in a high-stress environment where court decisions can greatly impact lives. Tensions run high in many divorce cases, custody battles, lawsuits, and criminal cases. Sometimes clients can’t cope with that stress and take it out the person they see responsible for their demise – their attorney or the judge.

Attacks against attorneys aren’t uncommon. Just more than a year ago, an Indianapolis attorney helped save a Fort Wayne lawyer from being pushed over the fourth-floor rotunda railing at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. The attacker? A Lafayette man angry about the judge’s decision involving an insurance case in which the man’s wife was injured.

Three years ago, a U.S. District judge in Chicago found her attorney-husband and mother shot dead in her basement. The killer was a Chicago man who was angry Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow had dismissed his lawsuit against the medical industry. Apparently, the man was looking for the judge, who wasn’t at home at the time of the murders. The man killed himself after police pulled him over for an equipment violation on his car.

Just yesterday, Anderson attorney Thomas Hamer was tied up by his client Richard Hudson, who was out of jail to attend a Social Security disability hearing in Indianapolis. Hudson abducted the lawyer after deciding he didn’t want to go back to jail. Hudson later let the attorney go and stole Hamer’s car, but he has yet to be caught.

Unfortunately, there are even more examples from around the country of violence against attorneys and judges. As someone who works in the legal profession and handles intense cases where emotions run high, is safety an issue that’s always in the back of your mind when you represent a client or make a ruling? You can’t predict how the client or party in the case will react, so can you even prepare a plan to protect yourself?
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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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