The interviews continue

July 30, 2010
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From reporter Michael Hoskins

ELLEN BOSHKOFF

Boshkoff said a justice must be open-minded. Important that the person be collegial, that they be passionate about the law. Integrity is the most important quality, she said. “A justice must be absolutely faithful to the law, must be absolutely scrupulous and fair to the litigants.”

Commission members so far have asked her the most questions: her views on how she could compliment - not duplicate - the other justices’ experiences, her views on first impression issues, pro bono initiatives, and what the three most pressing issues the court may face. Boshkoff said that her review of court activity shows her that access to justice and civil-litigation costs are the two top areas that the judiciary must address.

She highlighted the court’s action on IOLTA accounts, court interpreters, low-cost ADR, civil legal aid, pro se litigants, and the mortgage foreclosure crisis. But there’s still a lot to be done, she noted, especially since there’s been a 35 percent increase in people needing services in the past decade and the ratio of lawyers to litigants is “fairly poor,” and most aren’t even aware of what resources are available to them.

The Supreme Court could do more to possibly motivate and incenticize lawyers to help on that front in improving access to justice. A second area of concern is civil litigation costs, which Boshkoff said is something that judges must be more focused on because it prevents access to justice. Specifically, she pointed to rocket dockets that are “incredibly painful for everyone involved, but it does accomplish something and those cases do get resolved quickly.” Boshkoff said ADR isn’t used the way it should be, and there should be a review on how it can be phased in earlier into the litigation process. She also said technology is an important focus, one that Justice Frank Sullivan is already highly involved in with the statewide case management

KARL MULVANEY

He told the commission that his experience in handling attorney ethics issues is his biggest accomplishment, and changes that could be made include how judicial mandates are handled and possibly a rule revision on how long juvenile cases can have to be briefed on appeal. One commission member praised Mulvaney’s appellate experience in that he’s handled multiple areas of law. It garnered a response from the attorney that he viewed his advocacy role as being like an umpire and calling balls and strikes, between the legislature and the Constitution. Mulvaney also highlighted his experience as a Supreme Court administrator in giving him insight on very many legal matters that come before the court, and he opined on the quality of law school graduates and how he’s personally responded to ethical issues he’s faced as an attorney.

In responding to the common question from member John Trimble about his views on first impression issues, Mulvaney cited an issue in recent years where the justices addressed the definition of a child in relation to the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. He noted the chief justice’s analysis of what other states have done and how those issues may mesh with the state constitution.

SEN. BRENT STEELE


Referring to the commission’s multi-part question given out, Steele said that question is one that keeps you up at night, about wanting to give the right answer.  His being a lawyer in the first place is his biggest accomplishment, and how he’s been able to use those skills in contributing back to his community and the overall society. Two areas that need the court’s attention are both technology and how attorneys are taught practical aspects of practicing law, he said.

“As a member of the court, with my experience in the legislature, I can keep the Odyssey program on track,” Steele said. He also suggested the Supreme Court setup a sort of “mini-law school,” or an indoctrination program for new lawyers to learn the basic tenets of the law and how to apply those to their practices.

Now, the commission members are on a break until 1:15 p.m., when the final three semi-finalists face interviews. The commission goes into executive session at 3 p.m.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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