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IBA: Nominations open for education, pro bono awards

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Help the Indianapolis Bar recognize the many ways lawyers and legal professionals inspire us and help our community. Nominate your peers for IndyBar awards — to be presented at the Recognition Luncheon on November 29, 2011.

Nominations are being sought for the Dr. John Morton Finney Jr. Award for Excellence in Legal Education and the Pro Bono Awards. The deadline for all nominations is 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011. You may e-mail your nominations to iba@indybar.org, or download the form at www.indybar.org.

Additional awards are chosen by the board or designated committees.

Please join us as we present these annual awards to deserving IndyBar members at the Recognition Awards Luncheon at noon on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, at the Conrad Hotel (corner of Illinois and Washington streets). Register for the luncheon at www.indybar.org.

The 2011 Class of Indianapolis Bar Foundation Distinguished Fellows will also be featured, as well as lawyers who have practiced for 50 years and 25 years.

Award criteria

The Dr. John Morton Finney, Jr. Award for Excellence in Legal Education was established in 1998 to honor the memory of Dr. Finney who, during his lifetime, demonstrated the value of education and a love of the law. The successful candidate for this award will have made significant and unique contributions to further legal education within our community. Those active in legal education projects, public education or working within Indiana’s law schools shall be considered. The recipient will be chosen by a selection committee appointed by the IndyBar President.

The recipients of the Pro Bono Awards need to be members of the IndyBar. Under consideration are actively practicing lawyers, retired lawyers, in-house and corporate counsel, law firms, law students, and paralegals who have made outstanding contributions toward delivering volunteer legal services to the poor and disadvantaged.

Typically, the awards are presented in the following categories:

Practicing Attorney, Aiding Individuals — This attorney participates in advice as well as representation pro bono programs, not necessarily all sponsored by the IndyBar.

Practicing Attorney, Aiding Entities that Serve the Indigent — This attorney practices case representation pro bono through programs or agencies that support the poor.

Law Student — This student is involved with pro bono activities, through the IndyBar, their law school, and potentially work experience with legal providers for the poor, etc.

Law Firm — This firm’s management shows wholehearted support of pro bono service by the efforts of its partners and associates. The firm accepts pro bono cases from many avenues, shows support by naming a pro bono coordinator, participates as a firm in advice programs, in addition to individual’s participation in case representation pro bono.

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  1. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  2. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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