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IndyBar: Civility. Courtesy. Respect. Professionalism.

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iba-getting-along-logoThese are words that should be synonymous with “Advocate” but in a world of high stakes, strong opinions, and a general, societal decline in basic manners, how can attorneys fight the good fight while living up to these ideals – especially if the other side doesn’t? We set out to find examples of lawyers who model the way while providing excellent representation.

Getting Along is Not Wrong, an initiative of the IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism, is the impressive collection of such positive and compelling behavior. Check out the debut entry below, and find new installments online at indybar.org/blog.

‘Winning’ by ‘Losing’

Hon. Steven H. David, Indiana Supreme Court


The Chronological Case Summary reads: “Pre-trial conference held to discuss Defendant’s Motion to Continue Trial. Discussion held. Counsel for Plaintiff strongly objects to the Continuance. Motion to Continue is granted over objection and matter is reset for a first-choice trial on…”

Want the rest of the story? The trial was set on a day that the defense counsel had longstanding plans to be on vacation. He made it clear in his motion that his vacation was the conflict and the reason for the Motion to Continue. The plaintiff was livid and wanted the case to proceed to trial on the day scheduled. The plaintiff’s counsel asked for a pre-trial conference to discuss the matter rather than filing a written objection to the Motion to Continuance. Respecting the defense counsel’s desire to go on vacation, she did not want to oppose the Motion to Continue, but her client demanded that she “fight it.” All of this was discussed during the telephoned pre-trial conference between counsel and the judge. The Chronological Case Summary set forth above was then issued.

The defense counsel got his continuance. The plaintiff’s counsel “lost” her objection but “won” enhanced respect of the opposing counsel and the court. The plaintiff, while not happy with the trial judge’s ruling, got to read the CCS entry and was at least happy with his attorney’s effort in “opposing” the motion. Oh, and by the way, while on the telephone, a new conflict-free date was set for the trial. It did go to trial and was one of the best-tried bench trials I ever presided over.

Getting along is not wrong. Professionalism and civility is good business.•

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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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