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IBA: Interrogatories

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By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul

James J. Bell

Partner, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

Bell James Bell

He is a graduate of DePauw University and the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He practiced at the Marion County Public Defender Agency and Kiefer & McGoff prior to joining Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP. He is the most dynamic speaker on the regional CLE speaking circuit. He is James J. Bell, and he has been served with interrogatories.


Q:Your doppelgänger, Peyton Manning, recently left the city. How have you been holding up?

A:I just looked up “doppelgänger” and I do not believe that word accurately describes my relationship with our former QB. And no, it wasn’t a “man-crush” either. Anyway, I am sooo over #18 and have moved on to #12. Mr. Manning and I will just have to be friends.


Q:You’ve practiced in a variety of settings, including the Marion County Public Defender agency and both small and large firms. If you could choose a legal job other than your present one, what would it be?

A:If I could be anything in the legal profession, I would want to be Jim Voyles. He has implied to me that it is pretty awesome being him AND he gets to park next to the No Parking sign at The Workingman’s Friend.


Q:If you and your colleague Phil Isenbarger played basketball one on one, first to 21 wins, what would be the score?

A:Phil is a great guy so I think he would let me score at least once before he pummeled me with tomahawk dunks. Final Score: Isenbarger: 21; Bell: 2.


Q:You’ve practiced criminal defense for a long time. Have you ever had a client offer to pay you in something other than currency?

A:Believe it or not, my firm likes to get paid in currency. I once tried to get paid in tattoos and championship rings. However, the management of our firm said “no way” citing to the case of The Ohio State University v. the NCAA. I was really disappointed because I had already picked out a beautiful lower back tattoo of a demon mermaid for a select member of our management committee.


Q:Last year, you were a finalist in the Indiana State Bar Association’s Harrison Legal Writing Awards, but you didn’t win. Do you think you’ll ever win?

A:I shood. I am verry stellular righter. Not shure y I faled too win.


Q:Speaking of legal writing, you work with young associates at your firm. What advice do you give them about improving their writing?

A:Having never won one of those Harrison Award thingys, I am not sure I have enough writing street cred to hand out advice. But if I did, I would tell younger writers to get to the point as clearly and concisely as possible without being condescending to any of the parties or the courts.


Q:You went to DePauw. DePauw has lost the Monon Bell in each of the last four years. Is Wabash a superior institution?

A:Until you asked this question, I had never heard of Wabash College. However, I called David Hensel and he assured me that Wabash is a great institution and that it easily lives up to its nickname as being “The Harvard of Crawfordsville.”


Q:What has been the most satisfying moment or accomplishment of your legal career?

A:That’s hard to say. Whether I am representing individuals in criminal cases or attorney discipline matters, I am representing someone against the government. No matter how “successful” I am, my client has normally been put through a lot. I sometimes feel only relief when I accomplish something for my client. That said, a Henry County Sheriff once escorted Kevin McGoff and me to the county line after an acquittal in a murder case. That was satisfying in a Dukes of Hazzard sort of way.


Q:If you had to be stranded on an island with three members of the Indiana bench and bar, who would you choose and why?

A:If I were stranded on an island with three lawyers, I would apply sunscreen, vote myself off the island and start swimming.•

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  1. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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