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Indiana Judicial Nominating/Qualifications Commissions candidates Q&A

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Five attorneys – Jan Carroll, David Hennesy, Kathy Osborn, Joel Schumm, and William Winingham - are vying for a spot on the state commissions, which Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard chairs and include three attorneys selected by their colleagues and three non-attorneys appointed by the governor. Indianapolis attorney John C. Trimble finishes his three-year term for the 2nd District at the end of 2010, and one of these nominees will be chosen to replace him. Attorneys got ballots by mail and have until Nov. 10, 2010, to return those to the Indiana Appellate Clerk’s Office. The newly selected attorney joins the commissions Jan. 1, 2011. Each took a moment to answer some questions posed by Indiana Lawyer about their interests and qualifications for the commissions.

Indiana Lawyer: Why the interest?
Carroll: I’ve been interested in this longer than I was a lawyer. My awareness of it goes back way before I started practicing law in 1985 and 1986, to when I was with the Associated Press covering the process when Chief Justice (Randall) Shepard and Justice (Brent) Dickson were chosen.

Hennessy:  On the JQC, I do not recall and have found no one that recalls a criminal law practitioner on the Commission since its inception in 1970. The criminal courts are seemingly much busier than the civil. The perspective of the lawyers, litigants and citizens involved with those courts is needed. I have also noticed a decline in timeliness in starting court sessions and civility toward lawyers, litigants and citizens. Many lawyers and most citizens have no idea that they can file a complaint against a judge, much less how to do so. The availability of that process needs greater exposure and the process itself needs greater transparency. I would also like to see increased sensitivity to the manifestations of the deleterious effects of stress on judges and early intervention. For the JNC, the recent Supreme Court vacancy attracted a multitude of highly qualified candidates and was very transparent. I want that to continue and extend to all actions of the JNC.

Osborn: I have a strong interest and background in public service, and I've followed the work of the commissions since I became an attorney in 1999.  During that year, I clerked for Indiana Supreme Court Justices Myra Selby and Frank Sullivan when the Judicial Nominating Commission conducted interviews for Justice Selby's replacement.  As a clerk, I had the opportunity to sit in on nearly all of those interviews and observe the commission at work.  I found the process both fascinating and rewarding.

Since then, as an appellate practitioner and close court observer (I have been one of the appellate decision columnists for Res Gestae since 2000), I have gained a greater appreciation of the significant role that the Judicial Nominating Commission plays in shaping the composition of the state's appellate courts.  The members of both the JNC and JQC perform an important public service and make decisions that go to the core interests of all Indiana citizens, be they individuals, large corporations, small businesses, governmental entities, or not-for-profit organizations.  My interest stems from a desire to contribute to this process by recommending candidates who will seek to do justice, and who are not beholden, or viewed as beholden, to a special interest group.  I also believe I have the skills to review allegations of judicial misconduct in the balanced and thoughtful manner both complainants and judges deserve.

Justice Sullivan and former Justice Selby are individuals who value and promote diversity within the bar and on the bench, and I believe it is important to further that mission.  Groups such as these commissions can best fulfill their purpose when comprised of a diverse group of members who bring to the table a variety of viewpoints and also have open minds.  

Unfortunately, however, the attorney-member elections historically have been cast as plaintiff’s versus defense bar races.  This perspective disenfranchises a large portion of the practicing bar and does a disservice to the citizens of Indiana, all of whom deserve appellate judges who have the desire and ability to evaluate the law objectively.  Moreover, although I believe women now comprise over 50 percent of the bar in Indiana, there has never been a female attorney elected to the commission.  Rather than sit on the sidelines and express my disappointment about this, I can change it by being elected.  

Schumm: I’ve had the privilege of working for three different judges and always been very interested in the selection and ethics of judges.  I have placed interns with judges for several years and regularly discuss issues of selection and ethics in my class.

Winingham: Now that I have more time available, with our kids off to college or out of college, I am ready to devote more time to law-related causes and civic organizations.  I have learned to appreciate the importance of good judges during my legal career, and have seen the powerful impact of judicial decisions upon our clients.  It is critical that we continue to have top-notch judges in Indiana, and therefore I felt that participating in the JNC would be a worthwhile endeavor.
            
IL: Is there anything in particular that pushed you to wanting to be on the commission?
Carroll: When I came to Barnes & Thornburg, I was young and very enthusiastic and was tasked with covering that process as a first- or second-year lawyer there. I had talked to one of the old lions in our litigation department about my interest, and he said you can’t run because you’re too new and don’t know anything yet. Reflecting on that, I realized it was probably true then and held off. Over time, and now in practice for 25 years in January, I have that experience. I’ve appeared in state courts all around Indiana on civil litigation, have a lot of exposure to judges - what makes a good judge in temperament and approach, and also how important it is to have intellectual curiosity and to work hard. Now there’s a vacancy and I’m not in a position to be slapped down by those old lions. A number of my colleagues suggested it to me, and I thought it was good time to put my name in.

Hennessy: No discrete event or experience has triggered my interest. My interest is only as stated above.

Osborn: I believe I'm uniquely qualified to serve successfully in this capacity because of my professional experiences, background and knowledge of the Indiana judicial system.  

As a seasoned commercial, probate and appellate litigator, I have appeared in a variety of courts throughout Indiana, and I know first-hand how important it is to have an effective judiciary.  Through my Inn of Court memberships, as well as my involvement in and chairing of the Indianapolis Bar Association's Appellate Practice Section, I've had the opportunity to work outside the courtroom with several trial and appellate court judges and litigators, both civil and criminal. As such, I am familiar not only with courtroom operations, but also with a broad cross-section of the people who lead and practice in our trial and appellate courts.  Similarly, as a result of my clerkships, I have an insider's understanding of how our state's highest court operates, as well as a deep appreciation and respect for the significant role and responsibilities that all of our appellate courts must uphold.

I am 47 years old and before practicing law, I worked for over 11 years at the Indiana University Institute on Disability and Community.  My work included providing extensive training on a variety of topics such as group dynamics and organizational change in order to improve access to education, residential, employment and community settings for people with disabilities.  As a result of this professional experience, combined with my legal career, I believe I will bring both the maturity and skills that are needed to work with other members of the commissions and to be a force toward positive and productive group dynamics.

Schumm: The experience this summer of reviewing applications, observing all 43 interviews, and writing about several different aspects of the process and candidates for the Indiana Law Blog only heightened my interest.  

Winingham: With experience you learn that the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have tremendous power in interpreting our law.  Their decisions set precedent which all judges are duty-bound to follow. Understanding the importance of those appellate decisions, I wanted to be involved in making sure that excellent persons would continue to be nominated to fill vacancies on the Court of Appeals and our Supreme Court.

IL: What would this mean for your legal career, or marginally for any attorney who might be put into that position?
Carroll: I don’t look at this as a career enhancement. Anyone who looks at this as a resume polisher has the wrong approach. It’s an opportunity to serve, pure and simple. This doesn’t enhance or detract from (a legal career), and this is not going to give me any enhanced standing. It’s a tremendous commitment of time and I’ve always been a high-energy person, so am committed to do this if I have the opportunity.

Hennessy: A position on the commissions would do nothing for me personally or professionally. I am well recognized and respected in the community and among the bar. I do not believe there is any place for considerations of advancing self or personal interests in serving on the commissions.

Osborn: Membership on these commissions is a public service.  I am seeking this position so I can be part of the process of building a strong judiciary, not for the purpose of building my resume.  

Schumm: Serving would be an awesome responsibility but very well worth the time and energy.  Selecting high quality appellate judges and diligently investigating ethical complaints against all judges are crucial to our system of justice.

Winingham: The JNC is an opportunity to serve the bar and the public in a way that is not political nor for any particular gain. It is simply to make sure that we have the best judiciary possible in Indiana. This benefits all persons and is a way to give back to our profession which has been so good to me.

IL: What do you see as the most important aspect of the commissions' activity, for both the JNC and the JQC?
Carroll: I’m not sure it can be narrowed into most important aspects. The nominating commission is forward-thinking, and looks to fill vacancies and make recommendations to the governor about those who have an influence on common law. On the JQC, the focus is different – it’s about having good judges. It’s to look at judicial ethics issues and to examine disciplinary actions when warranted. Both are critically important to the public. A lot of people, including lawyers, think that these commissions are only for lawyers who litigate or they might be the only ones who should be interested. That’s just flat wrong. I think it’s critically important to realize the commissions serve the public in a very important ways.

Hennessy: The responsibilities of the commissions are narrowly drawn and none are more important than others. I would say that oversight of judicial qualifications is very important and requires a more expansive effort than filling the specified vacancies

Osborn: The most important charge of the Judicial Nominating Commission is to identify nominees to present to the governor who have the ability and skills necessary to evaluate the law objectively in every matter, foster confidence in the Indiana judiciary and serve as strong role models for children and others who aspire to be jurists themselves.

The Commission on Judicial Qualifications has the very sensitive and important task of screening and investigating allegations of judicial misconduct.  I believe the most important aspect of this work for members on the commission is to evaluate allegations in a way that does not indulge mere attempts at an alternative to the appellate process on substantive issues, but takes seriously legitimate and viable concerns regarding perceived or potential judicial misconduct.  

Schumm: I think both functions—nominating and qualifications—are equally important.

Winingham: The most important aspect of the work of the JNC and JQC is to ensure that the public can be confident in the integrity and competency of Indiana judges.  This mission is fulfilled by the JQC review of misconduct allegations against judges and the JNC job of selecting candidates for the governor to consider in filling vacancies on the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The common thread between these two is ensuring that we continue to have judges in whom the public can trust, and therefore a judicial system in which the public can trust.

IL: How do you go about campaigning within the legal community to be voted for?
Carroll: In my case, it’s more word-of-mouth and personal contacts. My colleagues in other firms statewide also help spread the word. One of the virtues of being with the AP is knowing a lot of lawyers and I’ve maintained those contacts through the years. Mostly now, I think there’s more word-of-mouth that I’m not sure was there in previous years. Every lawyer is looking for someone who is truly neutral and has the experience and background to make good decisions. I’m considering letter-writing after receiving one early on. I think the function of any of these communications is to say: “hey, there’s an election, be alert and cast your ballot.”

Hennessy:     My motivation was to simply offer an alternative to the electorate and hadn't considered campaigning. I even declined the CD of attorney contact information that was offered. I am now, however, being urged to "campaign" and if I do so would likely send letters and rely on word-of-mouth.

Osborn: Consistent with my desire to be a representative of all Indiana attorneys, I have been contacting a wide range of lawyers, not just in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, but in all of the counties that comprise the 2nd District.  This includes in-house attorneys, private and public practitioners, solo and large firm lawyers, pro bono plan administrators, litigators and non-litigators, women and men, new attorneys and seasoned practitioners, academics, and minority and majority lawyers.  I have been making phone calls and sending e-mails to people who know me, and those people in turn have made contacts with their personal networks.  I also have sent letters to representatives of all of the county bar associations within the 2nd District and am continuing to reach out to them.  Baker & Daniels also issued a press release that is posted on the Baker & Daniels website at www.bakerdaniels.com.  And my friends and colleagues are making use of social media to further my campaign efforts.

Schumm: I will not be sending out any mail or placing ads.  I will be relying heavily on e-mail and word-of-mouth with the help of a network of friends and former students.

Winingham: I have made many phone calls to lawyers all throughout our district, and also sent a letter recently explaining my interest in the position and summarizing why I felt I would be a good selection. I plan to continue with phone calls and personal contacts leading up to the election.

IL: What would you want the legal community in those nine counties to know?
Carroll: I have 25 years practicing in state and appellate courts, and my practice has taken me to the Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. So, I know how the state courts work and function. That depth of knowledge is what I have to offer.

Hennessy:  I am sincere and have no personal agenda.

Osborn: I will bring a balanced perspective to the commissions.  I am not solely a plaintiff's lawyer, nor am I solely a defense lawyer.  My practice ranges from pro bono representation of indigent parties to counseling and representation of small businesses and multi-national corporations.  I have the desire and ability to be a true representative and public servant.  Throughout my non-legal and legal careers, I have tried to use my talent to give back to the community, and I believe that serving on these commissions is an appropriate next step.

I also would like the members of the legal community in those nine counties to vote!  There are over 6,000 attorneys who will receive ballots in October, but only a small fraction of attorneys have ever voted in these elections.  

Schumm: I share your goal of a high quality, ethical, and impartial judiciary.  I have no agenda other than to select the best candidates and ensure judges are ethical and respectful to all.  No one will work harder or have higher expectations.

Winingham: After 30 years in practice, I have an extensive and diverse set of experiences. I was a state court and federal court prosecutor for 6 years, followed by 25 years in civil practice. This means I can understand the importance of issues in both criminal and civil cases. I understand after 30 years of experience that judges should be selected who can appreciate arguments on either side of a controversy. I have always taken pride in my ability to get along with lawyers in all areas of practice, and feel that maintaining civility and respect for one another, and for the bench, are critical to the administration of justice.  I am probably known as a plaintiffs' lawyer, but hope that I have developed a reputation for fairness and respect for all attorneys in all areas of practice.



 

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. 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.

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