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IBA: Interrogatories

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Marcia J. Oddi

Editor, Indiana Law Blog

www.indianalawblog.com

She is a graduate of Indiana University and the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. She served as Revisor of Statutes, Director of the Public Law Division of the Indiana Legislative Services Agency, and Chief Counsel to the Indiana Senate before entering private practice in 1988. She is Marcia Oddi, the preeminent Indiana law blogger, and she has been served with interrogatories.

Q: The Indiana Law Blog (ILB) just celebrated its 10th anniversary last month. How did you decide to start the blog?

A: I’ve had a lifelong fascination with news information and its distribution. (1) My parents were inveterate newspaper clippers, regularly sending me thick envelopes of stories when I was in college. (2) Clifton Utley (Garrick’s father) was an NBC news anchor back in the day when I was working in Chicago. I’d see him on the South Shore, getting ready for his show, clipping stories out of the papers - I was in awe. (3) When I started working for the General Assembly in the mid-1960s, the legislature subscribed to clipping services and I loved reading news from all around the state. So naturally when Howard Bashman started How Appealing (www.howappealing.law.com) I thought, wow, I could do that clipping thing for Indiana!

Q: What is an average day like in the life of the blog? How do you decide what to cover, and how much time does it take?

A: I spend an average of six hours a day on the ILB. Before I get out of bed I’m watching Morning Joe and scrolling through my iPad for news and emails. I file stories away to use throughout the day. I look through a number of online papers. I use Google Reader constantly. I try to start posting between 8 and 9 a.m., but it may be earlier if something big has occurred, or later if I’m working on a long, difficult entry, or have something else on my schedule.

Mid-morning I start looking for court opinions. I check Twitter and my email every few minutes for new news. By mid-afternoon things usually slow down and I can work on more involved posts. Throughout the day I address emails from readers.

A small fraction of what I read ends up on the blog. After all this time I have some sort of internal governor that tells me, “that fits in the blog” or “that doesn’t”.

Q: Frequent readers of the ILB know about your commitment to transparency and access to records. Are you optimistic about the future of transparency in Indiana law?

A: Not really. Look at this past session. A bill to charge fees for public records fortunately didn’t make it this year, but another bill, SEA 369, which allows a public agency to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of investigatory records of law enforcement agencies or criminal intelligence information, is awaiting the Governor’s action. As The Times of Northwest Indiana wrote, “Refusing to acknowledge a record’s existence is even worse than refusing to release it, with or without redaction.”

Q: Assuming a reader follows ILB and has time to follow one other legal blog, which would you recommend and why?

A: SCOTUSblog (www.scotusblog.com), hands down. It has cleared the table, insofar as U.S. Supreme Court coverage is concerned, and it gets better every year. Founder Tom Goldstein has been quoted, “The court is so bad at conveying information about what it’s doing, if someone can helpfully step in in a way that’s free and accessible, people really appreciate it.” Of course, SCOTUSblog has had wonderful monetary support, first from a major law firm and now from Bloomberg.

Q: Google Reader is shutting down next month. Do you have recommendations on how to follow the ILB in the future for current users of that service?

A: Yes, follow the ILB on Twitter @indianalawblog. I send out a tweet after every new blog post, and also do some retweets of others’ items.

The bigger question is, how will the ILB keep up-to-date with the news without Google Reader? Don’t know yet, but I plan to start looking on June 1st—the announced shutdown is July 1st.

Q: What do you think has made ILB so popular?

A: Well, thanks! I try to put together “what an Indiana lawyer may want to know today,” plus some mindstretchers and an occasion chuckle.

According to my Sitemeter stats (which only counts clicks made directly to the blog itself), the ILB averages 2,000 to 2,400 visitors each weekday and about twice that number of page views.

Q: Do you have any goals left for ILB? Where do you see it going?

A: I’d like to see more transparency in the judiciary. We are getting there. When the ILB started 10 years ago, transfer lists were not online and neither were Not for Publication decisions of the Court of Appeals. There was little information available for voters when judges and justices went up for retention. The selection process for appellate judges and justices received minimal coverage. All that has improved. And of course the appellate courts videocast and archive most of their opinions; that is awesome.

As for goals which would allow the ILB to provide enhanced coverage:

I’d like the Supreme Court briefs to be posted online as they are filed. Generally these consist of transfer petitions and responses, sometimes amicus briefs, and in rare cases (Malenchik and Quanardel Wells come to mind) the Supreme Court will ask for more briefing.

I’d like the Court to announce what petitions it will consider in its upcoming weekly or more frequent conference (as does the Supreme Court of the United States), and then promptly post the resultant transfer list that afternoon or the following morning.

Finally, an essential and pressing goal for the ILB is finding more major financial supporters.

Q: Professor Joel Schumm is one of the only people other than you who makes contributions to the blog. How did that come about?

A: When Justice Boehm announced his retirement and Chief Justice Shepard announced that the interviews for a new justice, the first in more than 10 years, not only would be open, but the applications would be posted online, I contacted Prof. Schumm to see how we might work together to report on the selection process. I knew Joel then only through the notes we traded back and forth about ILB items. Joel had great ideas and put much time and effort into the coverage and the rest is history. His contributions via the ILB to the Indiana legal community have been, I believe, unmatchable.

Q: If you had to do something other than blog and practice law, what would it be?

A: I began life after college as a biological illustrator at the Field Museum; I would love to spend more time drawing and painting.•

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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