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IBA: A 'Safe Ask' is Just a Phone Call Away

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By Robert W. York, Robert W. York & Associates

york-robert.jpg York

On January 26, 2006, the then members of the Executive Committee of the Seniors Lawyers Division (later renamed the Senior Counsel Division): Justice Brent Dickson; Bob York; Bob Geddes; Phil Genetos; Ray Good and John Render, met for the Division’s organizational meeting and discussed the direction that should be taken to accomplish the directive from Indianapolis Bar Association President Judge Cynthia Ayers that the Division undertake a significant initiative for the advancement of the IndyBar, its members and the practice of law.

Following the addition of Judge Sarah Evans Barker and Judge Margret G. Robb to the Committee, discussion ensued over several months as to the development of a program which would provide a resource for members of the IndyBar to obtain guidance and information from experienced attorneys intended to assist them in providing quality and ethical legal services to their clients.

At the recommendation of Judge Barker, the Committee determined that the nomenclature, “Safe Ask,” would properly describe the program’s purpose and would encourage potential users to believe that they could be safe in asking questions that would aid them and their clients.

With respect to the implementation of the program, the Committee determined that:

For conflicts check purposes – the responder should first determine whether the inquiry involves a matter in which the responder is involved.
ask-factbox.gif It was important to receive a safe question. For example, because the provisions of Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct require the reporting of a known violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the inquirer should be informed to frame their inquiry accordingly.

Responders should avoid the temptation to try to “solve” the inquirer’s case and instead should provide their best advice while reminding the inquirer that: since the practice of law is an art, there is usually no one “best” method to resolve a legal issue; that the advice given should be considered as a recommended approach and not as a guarantee that it will obtain the desired results; and, that the inquirer should exercise his or her independent judgment in deciding upon their course of action.

In the event the responder is unable to frame a proper response, the inquirer should be referred to another source, such as the Indiana State Bar Association Ethics Committee, which has been designated by the Supreme Court to provide advice on ethics issues.

The Safe Ask program should be made available to all IndyBar members and should utilize the IndyBar’s Website at www.indybar.org. A member wanting a response to a question may access the “Member Benefits” section of the site and then send an email by using the “Safe Ask” section of the site. Depending upon the nature of the question and the member’s indication, the question will be answered confidentially by email or telephone, or, if the question does not require confidentiality, will be forwarded to the Safe Ask Panel for responses as they choose.

The disclaimer approved by the Committee should be posted on the website.

Members of the initial Safe Ask Panel were: Robert W. York, Robert W. York & Associates; John C. Render, Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman; Ronald L. Dyer, Elder Law Attorney; Terrill D. Albright, Baker & Daniels; Donald L. Centers, Hannon, Hutton & Associates; Robert W. Geddes, Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons; Philip C. Genetos, Ice Miller; Raymond Good, Lewis & Kappes; John Q. Herrin, Drewry Simmons Vornehm; Paul F. Kortepeter, Sommer & Barnard; and, Michael J. Rusnak, Harrison & Moberly.

In the intervening years, panel members have responded to a broad array of questions involving procedural, discovery and evidentiary issues as well as conflicts with a court, with clients, with opposing counsel and within a law firm.

The Safe Ask program has been and will continue to be a valuable resource for IndyBar members and all are encouraged to contact any of the current panel members listed on the IndyBar’s website, knowing in advance that they can safely ask any question.•

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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