Update on Evansville legal community

June 25, 2010
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This post was written by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger.

Every spring or summer since I started working here – almost four years ago – I’ve spent a day on the road to and from southwest Indiana to have lunch with the Evansville Bar Association executive director and leadership. I made my fourth trip earlier this week.

If I had the time to travel more often I would, as it is always a great opportunity to meet sources and readers face-to-face. While IL reporters strive to reach out to all areas of Indiana by phone and e-mail when we can’t physically get somewhere for various reasons, nothing beats a day out of the office and an informal lunch to learn more about one of the state’s many vibrant legal communities.

Here’s what I learned from EBA executive director Susan Vollmer and executive assistant Cathy Martin, president-elect Todd Glass, and co-administrator of the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwestern Indiana Scott Wylie:

- The Randall T. Shepard Courtroom, named for the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and Evansville native, will be star of a hard hat reception in October, and will officially be renovated in time for the EBA’s 100th anniversary to be celebrated at the EBA’s Law Day event in April 2011. Chief Justice Shepard was also instrumental in encouraging EBA members to support the renovations. Vollmer added she had some conflicts when trying to schedule the EBA receptions due to other organizations and individuals who have already booked the courthouse, which is partially renovated already. The courtroom, which originally housed the Vanderburgh Superior Court, will likely be used for some court hearings, as well as teen court, memorial events, and other special events for the Evansville legal community.

- Another way the organization will celebrate the 100th anniversary is an oral history project. Retired former executive director Susan Helfrich continues to work on these interviews that will ultimately be available to the public. The history of the Evansville legal community – and how various trials and legal events have shaped the community at large – will also be included in a display at the historic courthouse and online for classrooms to use when completed.

- Similar to court-appointed special advocates, members of Evansville’s legal community have been organizing a program for adults with disabilities or mental illness who need an advocate to look out for their best interests. That program, Guardianship Services of Southwest Indiana Inc. is led by a full-time attorney who works with trained volunteers. The organization recently received approval for 501c3 status. The only similar program Wylie and the others were aware of in Indiana is in northwest Indiana.

- While other communities have closed, moved, or shortened the number of hours of their law libraries are open, Evansville continues to have a law library and librarian. Wylie and others praised the work of Helen Reed, particularly her patience and care that she exudes while working with pro se litigants who can’t afford to hire counsel.

- Chief Justice Shepard will be recognized in another way this fall – a new high school program. The Randall T. Shepard Academy for Law and Social Justice will start at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. The program will take place at Harrison High School, part of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

The above updates and others will likely be reported in future editions of Indiana Lawyer. Do you have updates about your legal community? Regardless of where you are located in Indiana, I’d like to hear about them. Please post here or feel free to e-mail me directly, rberfanger@ibj.com.
 

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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

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  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

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