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Incoming ISBA president sets communication at top of agenda

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Jim Dimos was just out of law school and settling into his first job at an Indianapolis firm when he volunteered to help coach an inner-city youth football team.

Named the Falcons, the team bruised the gridiron during the Saturday dog-eat-dog games and ended up exceeding expectations by making the playoffs. Dimos, an offensive lineman in high school, ran the defense with a cool hand.

apb-jimdimos01-15col.jpg Jim Dimos (IL Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Dan Lueders, partner at Woodard Emhardt Moriarty McNett & Henry LLP, was among the other volunteer coaches on the Falcons’ team. Recalling that 1987 season, Lueders remembered Dimos towering over the 5th- and 6th-grade boys and talking to them, explaining to them. He never yelled, he never used vague, abstract buzz words that confused the players, but rather he patiently helped them understand what they should do on the field.

“That just came naturally to Jim,” Lueders said.

Dimos, partner at Frost Brown Todd LLC, will once again be using those leadership and communication skills as he becomes the next president of the Indiana State Bar Association. He wants to lead by listening and engaging bar association members and non-members from around the state to not only tell them what the organization offers but also to hear what more the association can do.

Building on the initiatives started by outgoing ISBA president Dan Vinovich, Dimos has plans to strengthen and grow the state association of more than 12,000 members.

“It really is an honor to be selected to serve in this role and represent the association,” Dimos said. “I hope members, at the end of it, feel I met their expectations of what they look for in a state bar association president.”

Pedigree

Dimos will bring bar leadership experience to his presidency. He has been active in both the state and Indiana bar associations as well as the American Bar Association pretty much his entire professional career.

He was introduced to the bar associations as a young attorney. The culture at the former Locke Reynolds, now Frost Brown Todd, encouraged participation, with the firm paying the annual dues and senior partners inviting associates to bar lunches.

With that foundation, Dimos joined and actively participated. He rose in the Indianapolis Bar Association, eventually serving as president in 2001, and is currently a member of the ABA House of Delegates. The value he sees in belonging is the ability to interact with lawyers from different places, working on a variety of projects and helping to improve the legal system.

For the long hours and energy he has devoted to his volunteering, Dimos has received, as his wife said, “emotional compensation.”

“I feel better about what I do when I’m able to do something that helps the community at large,” he said.

Dimos will take the helm while the legal profession is undergoing fundamental changes. The disrupt caused by technology, the growing need for affordable legal help, the tight job market and the concern over law schools are among the issues drawing attention.

vinovich-dan-mug Vinovich

Certainly, as Indiana’s largest organization of attorneys, the ISBA has a prominent bully pulpit from which it can speak. However, Dimos cautioned the association has to use its voice in the appropriate manner. Members have different viewpoints, he said, and the ISBA has to be respectful of those.

The association’s collective voice will be guided by input from the sections and committees within the ISBA, he said. Substantive issues the smaller groups raise will be taken to larger groups in the ISBA to determine what position, if any, the organization should take.

One thing Dimos learned from his earlier turn at bar association leadership is that he does not always get to control the agenda. Much like a coach reacting to what is happening on the field, he said as Indy Bar president he would start his day by reading the newspaper to find out which judge, lawyer or columnist just changed his day.

John Maley, partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, saw Dimos’ style up close as the 2001 president-elect of the Indy Bar.

“Jim is the consummate bar leader and servant – local, state, and nationally,” Maley said. “He believes strongly in the virtues of lawyers and the legal profession, and has devoted thousands and thousands of hours through his distinguished career to serving the bar and promoting justice. Indiana will be well served with Jim leading the state bar.”

Three-year plan

When Vinovich became the ISBA president, he launched a three-year initiative that sought to strengthen the organization by improving member benefits, diversity and governance. The idea was that the plan will be carried forth by his successors, Dimos and Sullivan attorney Jeff Hawkins.

One-year initiatives that start and end with a single presidency are ineffective, Hawkins said. He believes Vinovich had a remarkable suggestion to coordinate the agenda among three leaders as a way to accomplish more.

Currently, the bar association has added free access to the online legal research provider, Casemaker, and a free ethics continuing legal education course for members. The total value per individual reaches $540, Vinovich said, and has helped increase the member rolls by 644.

To increase geographic diversity, the ISBA has enlisted video conferencing to enable members in the far reaches of the state to serve as chairs and vice chairs of the sections and committees, Vinovich said. Also, the association is considering adding two at-large seats to its board of governors.

Vinovich is confident Dimos will pick up the initiative and advance the ISBA even more. He described the incoming president as having a “very calm and level-headed demeanor” that makes him particularly suited to lead attorneys. Dimos, he said, lets everybody talk and then creates a consensus.

“I can’t wait to see what he does,” Vinovich said. “He’s really going to be good.”

Healthy conversations

Dimos wants to continue to reach out to attorneys and get them to join the association. The board of governors will be visiting Valparaiso, Notre Dame and Indiana University Maurer law schools and he plans to ask the district representatives to engage more with members and the local bar associations.

hawkins-jeff.jpg Hawkins

Mostly, he wants to talk with members. He wants to have healthy conversations where many different voices are heard and all opinions are respected. This, he said, will allow the association to accomplish good things.

Raising two daughters and one son, Dimos knows the conflicting needs and desires that can exist with a group. Achieving consensus in the ISBA will not be easy, he said, and it will not be created the way it sometimes is at home.

“I can’t at the end of the day say, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m dad,’” Dimos said. “I don’t get that luxury nor do I want it.”

Practicing in a small town, Hawkins understands the necessity of bringing more attorneys into the ISBA, listening to what they say and giving them the resources they need. Communication, he said, is key to doing this.

Hawkins, the next ISBA president-elect, said Dimos is coming to the organization with a real passion for the organization and a lot of leadership experience. The incoming president, he said, has a desire to work together with members, promoting a free exchange of thoughts to keep the association percolating with fresh ideas.

“Jim is a big man in terms of physique and capability,” Hawkins said. “When I stand by him, I look up to him and not just because he’s well over 6 foot and I am not.”•
 

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  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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