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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 was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  2. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  3. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  4. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  5. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

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