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Hebenstreit: Witnessing the Unimaginable

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IBA-hebenstreitSometimes, world events are just too much to ignore. We were out of the country when the First Act of the Japan crisis unfolded and heard about it second hand and late. Not too many areas can withstand a 9.0 earthquake and get back to normal life quickly. But then the cruel Act 2 occurred. It is hard for me to understand the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami, but for those involved, it probably does not matter much. Watching those boats, cars, and buses just being swept away like small corks in a stream was a pretty chilling realization of the power of nature – nature that with all the technology we have, no one can figure out how to predict or control. Then Act 3 occurred – a nuclear situation as bad as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. What next?? What possibly can happen to punish the Japanese population anymore?

Who really knows what the ultimate figures will be, but the current numbers indicate that over ½ million Japanese are without homes, and over 1 million are without water. Those near the Fukushima nuclear plant have to stay in their houses with duct tape over the windows. I am old enough to remember the Civil Defense issues of the cold war. Teachers had us practice drills in case of nuclear holocaust, and houses and public buildings were equipped with fallout shelters complete with fresh air and food systems. We thought those were a thing of the past until Fukushima.

One of the things that has really hit me is that these folks are just like us. I hate to sound callous, but the tsunami that hit Thailand several years ago was terrible, but it was hard to relate to. It hit pretty much rural areas. The Japanese situation hit cities like Indianapolis. The news has reported that Matsushima, Japan was a beautiful resort town similar to Big Sur or Cape Cod. Now, it is a heap of rubble. The only things standing are the pine trees from which it drew its beauty. Amazing what Mother Nature can destroy, and what it does not.

It is hard for me to even imagine having my home float away along with my car and all of the family furniture, photos and memories. What do you do with 24 hours if you have no job, or can’t get there because the trains are not running, or if you are lucky enough to still have a car, there is no gas to purchase? How do you generate income? But does it matter because even if you have money, the electricity won’t power up the ATM machines and there is no inventory at the store to buy. Pretty unfathomable.

But natural disaster can happen, even in Indiana. Do you remember that Final Four night when the winds reduced the Regions Tower to a shell? Windows were torn out and debris was everywhere. My office was on the 20th Floor of the Gold Building. I looked out my window and saw white papers on the rooftops of every building as well as just on the streets. It occurred to me that what I was looking at was in actuality the tax returns of clients or the evidence that was to be introduced at a trial that week. Yes, it can happen in the heartland.

The Hackman, Hulett & Cracraft firm was one of the hardest hit. Their offices were on the 24h floor. Mike Cracraft’s corner office had windows blown away, but the contract and marker he had been working on the day before the disaster were still on his desk. Mother Nature is fickle. According to Dave Bodle, what saved the firm was that they were able to retrieve their computer server and access their information remotely. Now, the firm has an offsite server just in case. Dave credits the management of the Regions Tower with clear thinking and good strategy to allow tenants to retrieve their important systems as quickly as possible. Maybe we should all create a disaster plan just in case.

We all live our lives day to day. Each day we attend to the matters before us as if they are the most important in the world – and they are. Legal problems are the most important issues our clients face. They are not familiar with the system and rely on us to help them navigate the legal system and to solve their problems. But as disasters like the Japanese situation occur, we need to stop for a minute to reflect on just how lucky we are. Sure, we all probably complain that the Judge just was not listening when we argued our best points. Or maybe our partners were not paying attention when we discussed the way to make our firm more profitable. But we at least have homes, offices, electricity and the ability to carry on somewhat normal day to day life. Things we take for granted, but things for which we should be very grateful.

Let’s take a minute to reflect about exactly how lucky we are and pray for those who seemingly have nothing but heartache and misery ahead. •

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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