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Inbox: Balancing the scales of justice

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the EditorTo the Editor:

Recently, the Zoeller family and friends gathered to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of my cousin, Chris Zoeller, a New Albany native who was well known in the courts of Marion County as a criminal defense lawyer. He was a somewhat larger-than-life personality who created memories with everyone with whom he came in contact.

Speaking as a one-time law partner with Chris and now in my current role as Indiana’s attorney general, I find that his professional life represents an important element in our system of justice. Often overlooked and underappreciated, the right to counsel guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment to the United State Constitution is essential in balancing the scales of justice. We cannot have a fair system without those who represent criminal defendants.

The life of a criminal defense attorney is hard, and one that cost Chris dearly in terms of his health. As someone who was attracted to the practice of law by the character Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Chris never backed down from defending the accused. There were those who feared his zealous and often creative approach and some who thought he pressed down too hard on his side of the scales at times, but that is as it should be. 

The important lesson I learned from Chris Zoeller is one I reflect upon in my current role: While fighting on behalf of the state of Indiana to convict the accused and affirm the conviction, we must always strive to seek justice. And justice is best served with a strong advocate that challenges the state to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And with his life’s work done to the best of his skill and ability, the defense can finally rest, and rest in peace.

Greg Zoeller
Indiana Attorney General

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  • Sixth Amendment
    Not, to take anything away from what Greg Zoeller did. I am sure, he did a wonderful job. He never once helped somebody with the Privilege of the Sixth Amendment. As, now all of our unalienable rights are now privileges. He Represented People; Never was he anybody's assistance of counsel.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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