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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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