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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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