Regulating roadside memorials

January 19, 2009
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Everyone has seen them while driving – the roadside memorials marking the spot where someone died with a cross, pictures, flowers, or stuffed animals. One Indiana legislator wants to regulate the erection of these by having the Indiana Department of Transportation or local government establish and maintain a roadside memorial for just one year.

At first glance, I question getting INDOT involved. These are private memorials set up by grieving family members or friends to remember a loved one and let the general public know someone died in an accident at that location. As long as the memorial is on public property and isn’t a distraction to drivers, it should be left alone.

Plus, the estimated $92 a pop to create, maintain, and then remove them will come from the State Highway Fund. The fiscal impact statement for the bill suggests around 100 people would want a memorial, but I imagine the number would be much higher. I bet you could get 100 requests just from the more populous counties like Marion, Lake, or Allen.

But many times these memorials aren’t on public property. A woman was recently killed on a street I drive every day and now there are stuffed animals and other items fastened to the tree in the front yard of where she was killed. As I passed by, I wondered if the homeowners allowed the memorial or if they are just putting up with it for the time being. I can’t imagine I’d want stuffed animals permanently affixed in my front yard, but how do you tell a grieving family to remove them?

Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Riley, suggests in HB 1108 that INDOT or local government step in and create uniform roadside memorials to remember the victims. Any memorials that pop up that aren’t erected by the government would be removed and all memorials would be taken down after one year. This isn’t the first time Indiana has tried to regulate roadside memorials. In 2003, a similar bill was introduced by Rep. Duane Cheney, D-Portage.

A state or locally regulated process would cut down on the distractions of giant teddy bears and other objects on the side of the road or tethered to trees. Regulation would also help private property owners when family members want to mark the site of a death. However, is it really the government’s place to do so with state funds?
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  • They SO need to ban these roadside memorials. They are ugly and tacky. If they were to limit it to attractive vegetation or a state-approved marker, it would be nice. As it is, though, people are allowed to decorate the spot where their loved one died with all kinds of tacky crap that sits out in the weather and becomes moldy, wet, and deteriorated. There is one behind my apartment building that has sat there for FOUR MONTHS and the city is too cowardly to make them remove it. I\'m sick of looking at that disgusting trash. It\'s not a memorial if it\'s garbage. What would you call wet, moldy stuffed animals other than garbage? Families should grieve in private. I should not have to be subjected to a bunch of tacky, ghetto-looking junk on public thoroughfares.
  • I AGREE THEY SOULD NOT BE ALLOWED THATS WHY OUR SOCIETY HAS GRAVE YARDS BUT GRAVE YARDS HAVE RULES . THE ROADSIDE MEMORIAL ACROSS THE STEET FROM MY DRIVE WAY GLOWS IN THE DARK FAKE FLOWERS CONSTANT GARBAGE FROM VISTORS TEENAGERS DOING BURNOUTS EVEN HEAD LIGHTS ON MY BEDROOM WALL WHEN VISTORS COME CALLING AFTER CLOSING TIME AT THE BAR. EVEN IF I GRILL A PORK CHOP THEY ARE HERE!!!!!!!!! THEY GET TO ENJOY THEIR PROPERTY BUT WE PUT UP WITH CONSTANT STREAM OF PEOPLE. IT\'S NOW 15 MONTHS INTO THIS AND I CANNOT BELIEVE SOCIETY PUTS UP WITH THIS OR FORCES US TO LIVE LIKE THIS

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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