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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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