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Former St. Joseph Superior judge dies

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Judge William T. Means, a former judge on the St. Joseph Superior Court for more than two decades, died Oct. 21 at the age 80.

Judge Means retired from the bench in September 2008. He had fallen ill shortly before his retirement and was in and out of the hospital or rehabilitation centers until his death, said St. Joseph Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch. Gotsch, who appeared numerous times in Judge Means' courtroom as an attorney before joining the bench, said it was a pleasure to try a case in front of Judge Means.

"I feel he was the best judge to try a case in front of because he was very gracious and didn't intervene in your case or interfere in how you wanted to present your case," he said.

St. Joseph Superior Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis agreed, saying Judge Means had an excellent demeanor for a judge. He was always calm and respectful to everyone in his courtroom, no matter what happened in court or if someone misbehaved.

Judge Means earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1953 and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1955. Prior to joining the bench in the mid 1980s, he was city attorney for Mishawaka, worked as Republican Party chair, was head of the license branch for the Republican Party, and worked in private practice.

Judge Means earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1950. He was active in local theater.

Judge Means was a member of the St. Joseph County and Indiana State Bar associations, as well as Michigan Alumni Club, Mishawaka Republican Party, Presbyterian Players, and First United Methodist Church of Mishawaka.

He is survived by his daughters Margaret Means (William Bergerson) and Rachel Means (Eric Grant); a granddaughter; and sister Marilyn Copeland. He was preceded in death by his wife, Francianne Ivick.

The family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bubb Funeral Chapel, 3910 N. Main St., Mishawaka. A memorial service will be held at the chapel at 11 a.m. on Friday.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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