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Former Lake County clerk’s convictions upheld by 7th Circuit

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Thomas R. Philpot, the former Lake County clerk convicted of taking more than $24,000 in federal funds earmarked for child support and using that money to pay himself bonuses, will not receive a new trial, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held this week.

In United States of America v. Thomas R. Philpot, 13-1465, Philpot appealed his convictions of two counts of mail fraud and one count of theft from a federally funded program. He was elected clerk in 2004 and served until 2009. He took money from the IV-D incentive fund to pay himself bonuses in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009.

The judge in the case acquitted Philpot on two charges based on testimony that he did not learn he could not give himself the bonuses under Indiana statute until 2008. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $10,000. His law license is suspended.

Philpot raised numerous issues on appeal, including that pre-trial publicity required his trial to be moved to Illinois and misconduct during trial. The 7th Circuit found none of his claims had merit. The judges pointed out that the jury pool was drawn from approximately 600,000 people and most of the media coverage of his theft occurred a year before the trial began.

The judges also found that a reasonable jury could conclude Philpot knew his bonuses violated state law after consulting with an attorney about the applicable statutes. The jury could have sided with Philpot and concluded he acted in good faith when he took the bonuses in January and October 2009, but it did not, the appeals court pointed out. Instead, it found he acted knowingly and with intent to defraud when he accepted the IV-D money without approval.

The 7th Circuit also rejected his claim he should receive a lesser sentence because he returned the money before the county detected that it was missing.
 

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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