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Hogsett tapped for U.S. Attorney post

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When Indianapolis attorney Joe Hogsett received the news that he’d been tapped by President Barack Obama to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, one of his first thoughts was that this could be the next home run in his career.

That wasn’t because of anything he was doing in court or for a client, though. At the time he got the call about the nomination, the senior partner at Bingham McHale was walking out of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where he was on vacation for his 12-year-old son’s weeklong baseball tournament.

“Walking out of the home of baseball when you get a call about the president giving you such an honor. … You can’t get any more American and patriotic than that,” the 53-year-old attorney told Indiana Lawyer within an hour of the White House announcement on July 14. “What a uniquely American experience, and I’m so extremely honored to be thought of for this.”
 

Hogsett Joe Hogsett

Limited in what he says publicly about the job prior to getting Senate approval, Hogsett said he’s looking forward to the confirmation process and that it’s an honor to be chosen for such a critically important post, which hasn’t had a presidentially appointed leader in almost three years.

The last confirmed leader was Susan Brooks, who left in October 2007 to take a general counsel and vice president spot at Ivy Tech Community College. Longtime second-in-command and previous interim leader Timothy Morrison took over that role temporarily until a new nominee could be found, and the gap that’s now lasted 33 months appears to be the longest on record.

For the Southern District, the U.S. Attorney manages a staff of about 80 people that includes roughly 30 lawyers. Morrison said the office in recent years typically handles an average 1,300 new civil cases and 1,300 pending ones, 350 new criminal cases and about the same number of pending ones, as well as about 2,000 active financial litigation cases that have collected about $20.1 million over the past three years.

Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh had recommended Hogsett, who’s been practicing since 1981 following his graduation that year from what is now the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington. The Rushville native started his career in private practice at the only firm he’s ever been with, despite detours into the political arena as a stalwart Democrat and close friend and political ally to Bayh.

After law school, Hogsett started out as an associate at what was then Bingham Summers Welsh & Spilman and specialized in appellate procedure and federal employment law. But his public service passions took him to the Secretary of State’s office as a deputy in June 1987 under Bayh’s leadership. Once Bayh become governor, Hogsett took over that top spot and then won the election for a four-year term. In 1995, Hogsett became then-Gov. Bayh’s chief of staff and senior advisor until 1997. Though he made some unsuccessful bids for Congress during the 90s, Hogsett didn’t set his sights on political roles after working for Bayh and returned to Bingham, becoming partner in 2000.

Now he specializes in employment law and civil rights cases and handles individual employment contracts, non-compete agreements, sexual harassment and retaliation claims, and immigration compliance, as well as defending businesses on those issues in state and federal courts. He also assists the firm’s government department in advising Hoosier cities, towns, and counties on various issues.

During the past decade, he’s been through a significant merger that changed the name to Bingham McHale and has also kept up his political passions by serving from 2003 to 2004 as state chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. He’s also kept up his status as an avid runner, being a five-time competitor in the Boston Marathon and competing in the Indianapolis mini-marathon. He also has seized additional education at every possible chance to the point he now has four Master’s degrees – one in English from Butler University in 1987, in theological studies from Christian Theological Seminary in 1999, and in history from I.U. in 2007.

In praising Hogsett’s experience, intellect, and temperament overall, Bayh said his longtime political ally’s background in the legal community makes him qualified for the position. Specifically, the senator cited Hogsett’s first-chairing of many high-profile federal trials during his years as a practicing attorney, and his leadership as Secretary of State. In that job, Hogsett supervised multiple fraud prosecutions against unscrupulous stockbrokers and helped provide restitution to Hoosiers, and he also enforced Indiana’s lobbying laws and won accolades from public watchdog groups, according to Bayh’s office.

Those in the legal community who know Hogsett or have personally practiced alongside or in opposition of the employment lawyer say he’s a qualified, good choice for U.S. Attorney.

Attorney Ryan Fox at Haskin & LaRue in Indianapolis has worked with and against Hogsett, and said his colleague was always well prepared and both fierce and cordial in his advocacy when needed.

“Because he was always prepared and (had) knowledge of the legalese on each issue and the facts of the case, his advocacy was so much better,” Fox said. “That ultimately helps whoever he’s representing.”

Others echoed similar insights, including one of the highest-profile litigators in Indianapolis who was also being considered for this U.S. Attorney post last year before withdrawing her name in October. That lawyer is Linda Pence, a former Department of Justice attorney who’s been practicing for 36 years and recently left Taft Stettinius & Hollister to co-found the law firm Pence Hensel.

“I think he’ll make a tremendous U.S. Attorney and will be a perfect helmsman for that office,” Pence said of Hogsett, who is a fellow Democrat and in 2008 had chaired her unsuccessful campaign for state Attorney General. “He’s been a civil trial lawyer for a very long time, and is used to reviewing complicated and complex issues and coming out with sound reasoning. You need someone who’s very quick to grasp those broad types of issues, and he’s got the intellect and legal skills to do this.”

Former U.S. Attorney Brooks, now at Ivy Tech, said that Hogsett seems very qualified for the position that she held for six years as a Republican appointee. She’s known him for years through political circles and has never observed him in action as a practicing attorney, but she’s heard through fellow lawyers about his stellar reputation.

“Truly, you need to be a good manager to do a good job in this spot and he’s got that experience,” she said.

Brooks described the importance of this nomination, but she emphasized that it’s even more important to have the career attorneys, investigators, and administrative staff who make the office run. A newly confirmed leader may help pull resources and energize an office so that it meets the White House and administration’s vision, but those on the front lines carry the weight.

She reflected on her appointment, which came after a three-month nomination process that culminated about a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That national tragedy came during President George W. Bush’s first year and hardly any presidential appointments had been made and confirmed at that time, she said.

“The worst incident in our country, maybe forever, and it was those career people who led the DOJ through that ordeal before the presidential people came in a month later and got more resources devoted to the work that was already happening,” she said

Now, Hogsett faces a confirmation process that requires U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approval and confirmation by the full Senate. Spokesman Brian Weiss in Bayh’s office in Washington, D.C., said there isn’t a set timetable for when the Senate might take action. Some have generally speculated that the process might wrap up by year’s end, when Bayh leaves office after his decision to not seek re-election to the Senate.

If confirmed this year, Hogsett would be the state’s second new U.S. Attorney following the Senate’s approval in May for interim leader David Capp to take that position for the Northern District of Indiana, which had been vacant since Joseph Van Bokkelen’s confirmation for the federal bench in mid-2007.

Hogsett would be the 18th person to hold the Southern District post since it was created in 1928. Before that time, Indiana was one jurisdiction with a single attorney representing the state. The first U.S. Attorney for Indiana was named in 1813 while Indiana was still a territory.•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. 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.

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