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Editorial: Letter to the Editor

July 6, 2011
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Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

As a corporate and securities law counselor to companies large and small for the past three decades, I take exception to remarks that Mark W. Everson, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, volunteered to The New York Times. I reference his opinion piece with the insulting headline “Lawyers and Accountants Once Put Integrity First,” which was published by the Times on Sunday, June 19, 2011 (Week in Review, p. 8).

That Father’s Day column drew on Mr. Everson’s recollection of his father’s career as a Wall Street attorney and his own experiences as an accountant with a Big Eight firm leading to his stint as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service under George W. Bush.

Recounting how honorable his father and he had been, and suggesting that lawyers and accountants in years gone by never “expected to get rich,” Mr. Everson lambasted both groups of professionals with the broadside that “[l]awyers and accountants who were once the proud pillars of our financial system have become the happy architects of its circumvention.”

As a remedy, he suggests that corporations should be stripped of their attorney-client privilege for discussions with their attorneys about “commercial transactions and financings and even government-mandated filings and disclosures...” Thus, in the span of two column inches, Mr. Everson suggests laying waste to a bedrock common law evidentiary principle that is grounded on sound policy, while suggesting that somehow he is opening up a “healthy” debate on a “can of worms.”

Further, his remarks seem to support the assignment to lawyers of a public “gatekeeper” role that, although increasingly suggested by Securities and Exchange Commission staff and others in speeches since the Enron debacle, is also not well grounded in the law or sound policy.

His conclusion is “[w]e should look at all the moving parts in our financial system – starting with the outside professionals – not just Wall Street and Washington.” Maybe he means Indiana?

I’ll let the accountants express their own outrage.

Maybe Mr. Everson is unaware that the subjects that he has so cavalierly addressed are the subjects of much regulatory, congressional, and scholarly debate, much of it triggered by the fallout from Enron, and the fallout of which included the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and sweeping changes affecting auditors and lawyers for public companies. He’s about a decade late.

I am proud of the professionalism of the lawyers (and accountants) who assist the businesses of this state in attempting always to comply with their legal obligations with integrity, and find Mr. Everson’s piece of drivel to be an embarrassment to this state and the public administration of which he serves. He’s entitled, of course, to express his opinion, but better for him to do so as John Q. Citizen and not as a member of the cabinet of Gov. Daniels.•

Sincerely,

Mark B. Barnes
Mark Barnes Law PC
Indianapolis

 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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