Learning while driving

November 8, 2010
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I’ve driven down State Road 37 hundreds of times over the years. It’s the road that leads me to Bloomington, where I went to college and now visit during Indiana University football and basketball seasons.

I’ve seen the sign on the side of the road that says “Ruel W. Steele Highway” countless times, but I don’t think I’ve ever read it. It wasn’t until last weekend when driving to a football game did I actually read the sign and see that it didn’t say T.C. Steele.

I never processed the name on the sign until now; I saw “Steele” and assumed it said T.C. Steele, the Indiana artist who worked in southern Indiana. That assumption is plausible, given his connection to the region.

But when I finally read what the sign said, I asked my husband if he knew who Ruel W. Steele was. Thanks to a smart phone, we learned he was a lawyer and judge from Bedford who was on the head of the highway commission that created S.R. 37. That’s why the highway from Bedford to Indianapolis is named after him.

After doing some more research online later, I found that Ruel W. Steele received his LLB from Indiana University in 1948, the same year he founded Steele & Steele. He was honored by IU in 1973 with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, which is the highest accolade for alumni. Steele died in December 1992. That’s all I could find out about him online.

I’ve driven that road for years never paying attention to who it honored. Now that I work for a legal newspaper, I find out it’s named for an attorney. Maybe I’m easily amused, but I get a kick out of that.

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  • Longer Legacy
    He is also the attorney who is the father of State Senator, Supreme Court applicant, and attorney, Brent Steele. My guess is that if you wanted to know more, Brent would be more than glad to oblige you on one of his visits to town for legislative business. There are some great stories and some great history there.
  • Correction:
    Ruel Steele did not create Highway 37 which was the main road from Indianapolis to Bloomington and on to Bedford for many years prior to Steele's service as a State Senator and Highway Commissioner. What Ruel Steele did accomplish was getting that heavily traveled highway "four laned."
  • Another highway story
    Highway 38 leading westbound into Noblesville is named the Bataan Memorial Highway (one of these signs is posted right on the curb of the American Legion near 10th St. in Noblesville). Being a miltary historian as well as an attorney, I asked a clerk in the Hamilton County Courthouse if some survivor or survivors of the Bataan Peninsula campaign and subsequent Death March lived in the area. She replied "What is Bataan?" I have made subsequent inquiries with lawyers and judges in Noblesville with no success. My guess would be that a legislator or highway executive decided to honor the veterans and nurses of Bataan.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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