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IBA: Tips From the Bench

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By The Hon. Lisa Borges, Marion Superior Court Criminal Division

Each time you step into a courtroom, you have a goal to achieve. You may need to get in and out quickly because you need to be in nine separate courtrooms at the same time. It’s possible you want something outrageous (for a really, really good reason), thus you want to be heard after all the other folks leave. Judges appreciate your busy schedule and understand you may not always be able to put our courts first. And believe it or not, we really want you to be happy! In order to assist the court in getting you what you need, there are a few things you can do. Remember Eddie Haskell? No one would suggest going that far. But wouldn’t you like to have all your friends say “Mom (or that judge) always liked you best?” The following are some suggestions which may well catapult you to the top of the ‘faves’ list:
 

borges-mug Borges

INTRODUCE YOURSELF – We could be having an “elder moment” and have forgotten who you are what you are doing over there at the table. And don’t you want everyone else in the courtroom to know you, too?

BE ON TIME – AKA, LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE LATE, WHY AND WHEN YOU WILL ARRIVE – We’ll accept almost any excuse. The donkey cart broke down, the kids play isn’t over yet…We just want to know when we will finish the calendar, because the motions your friends are filing right now are piling up in the office and the Bailiff is starving.

SUGGEST A DATE – If you’re ready, say so! If you aren’t, say when you WILL be ready. The Amazing Judge Carnack, can’t actually see into your calendar. Murphy’s Law says we’ll always pick a date you don’t want and we get embarrassed fumbling around suggesting date after date. Some of us are considering going to a lottery system.

KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR CASE – at the very least, be able to recognize your client. We have to figure out what to do with our other cases if yours is going to take a week to try. Remember to tip us off so we can prepare to concentrate on your case and only your case.

GIVE US A “HEADS UP” FOR EVIDENTIARY I.E.D’S IN YOUR TRIAL – We really will read the cases you give us before trial. In fact, we’re such big readers we go into transports over your Bench Briefs.

DRESS FOR COURT – Your client’s tee shirt that shows Tweety Bird with the saying “If you see a copy Warn-A-Brother” should be inside out during any court session. And you know your mother would want you to dress up to be a good example.

BRING YOUR OWN ART SUPPLIES AND TAKE THEM WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO – Unless you’d like to fund lockers for the court office.

BE NICE TO OUR STAFF – We don’t mean to give presents. All we ask is that you speak kindly and say please. They can help you in ways you can’t imagine. For example: working hard to convince us your excuse for being late is true or maybe even suggesting something that’s been working lately.

EX PARTE IS (ALMOST) ALWAYS A BAD THING – This will make us run for cover.

DON’T INTERRUPT – and please tell your client not to interrupt either. The court reporters are very valuable and we are trying to stay on their good side. They can become quite irritable if they can’t hear what’s being said, which is bad for everyone.

COME TO COURT WITH YOUR CLIENT – or at least have an idea where he or she might be.

REMEMBER, JUDGES ARE PEOPLE TOO – Smile. It will make us happy – and keep us wondering!•

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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