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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. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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