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IBA: Getting to Know Buchanan Winner Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson

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magnus-stinson-jane-mug Magnus-Stinson

Many say that mentoring is essential to a successful legal career. With the nature of the modern practice it seems less and less time is allotted for it. So, many choose instead to pattern their careers after role models. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, the 2012 recipient of the Paul H. Buchanan Jr. Award of Excellence, is a role model for many. The Indianapolis Bar Association posed some questions to “Judge Jane,” as she prefers to be known, to learn more about this exceptional lawyer and jurist.

How did you find your way to law school?

My job right out of college that was not particularly satisfying. I decided I needed to further my education to have a rewarding career. A friend suggested I was suited to law school and practicing law, so I applied. I am glad he did.

How did you find your way to the Bench?

I worked for the litigation firm Lewis, Bowman, St. Clair and Wagner (now Lewis Wagner.) The firm was much smaller then, so as a young lawyer I was able to actually try cases very early in my career. I fell in love with the courtroom, and that is where my desire to become a judge was born. That desire was intensified after my exposure to public service working for Governor Evan Bayh, where part of my responsibilities involved advising the governor on the selection of judges to fill judicial vacancies. Ultimately, then-Governor Bayh helped me find my way by appointing me to the bench in Marion County, and recommending me for nomination to the federal bench. His support was critical and greatly appreciated.

Now that you’re a federal judge, do you find any benefit in local bar involvement?

I have found a benefit in local bar involvement since first becoming a lawyer. The Indianapolis Bar Association offers a judge or lawyer the full package of opportunities: fellowship with colleagues, educational enrichment, and community service.

How has your community involvement impacted your legal career?

I have had the pleasure of working with fellow lawyers on IndyBar committees that have been of significant impact to our community. While working with the Pro Bono Standing Committee, programs involving advocacy for juveniles, legal advice to terminally ill indigent people, and low-cost wills for the elderly were started or grown. I am currently chairing the Bar Leader Series through which younger lawyers are developing projects to address community needs on issues ranging from child health to cleaning up vacant property. All of these experiences are impactful because they reinforce the legal profession as a force to eliminate injustice and to solve the problems of those in need. I have also been privileged to serve on various nonprofit boards such as Big Sisters of Central Indiana and Wishard Foundation which provided invaluable education about problems in our community. Some of the same problems also presented themselves in the judicial setting. For example, Big Sisters taught me that mentors can make a dramatic difference in the life of an at-risk child, and young people in the criminal justice system almost uniformly lacked role models. So while I served as supervising judge of the Marion Superior Probation Department we implemented a mentoring program for young offenders. My work with Wishard educated me to the value of neighborhood based services and we began satellite offices for probation so that probationers would be able to gain easier access to their officers.

Do you have regret in your career?

While I certainly have made mistakes along the way, I have learned much from them. So, no regrets, just life lessons.

What’s your passion?

My passion is raising my daughters to be happy, healthy, responsible, self-sufficient members of society.

What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for my husband, daughters, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, staff and church community. In short, the people who comprise my “village.”

Registration for the luncheon, which will be at the Downtown Hilton at noon on March 22, is now open on the Bar’s website, www.indybar.org. Cost is $30 per person.•
 

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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