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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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