ILNews

ITLA focuses on education, legislation, amicus briefs

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

As the year comes to a close, the president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association said the organization of about 1,000 members will continue its three major goals: to provide educational opportunities, to write amicus briefs when there is a broader issue that can apply to cases and clients of trial attorneys, and to track bills as they are submitted by legislators for the 2011 session of the Indiana Legislature.

President Thomas Doerhman of the Indianapolis firm Doerhman & Chamberlain said these three purposes of ITLA – education, legislation, and submitting amicus briefs – are important to members, which could be why the organization has maintained a steady membership over the last few years. Doerhman is about halfway into a yearlong presidency which ends in May 2011.

doehrman Indianapolis attorney Thomas Doehrman is halfway into his yearlong term as president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. He has been a member for at least 25 years, and said that networking opportunities and CLEs are just two key benefits of membership. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Doerhman has maintained his membership in the ITLA for at least 25 years, he said, because it is “the only organization in the state that is committed to the civil justice system and to keep the civil justice system open for the common person to use for legal remedies.”

He added that because it is specific to trial attorneys, the organization has been a great way to keep up-to-date on issues that trial lawyers need to know about, including CLEs.

One of the group’s most popular CLEs of the last few years focuses on the resolution of liens at the end of lawsuits. A video replay will be offered Dec. 15 at the ITLA Conference Room, 150 W. Market St., Suite 210, Indianapolis.

“It’s a very specific topic when it comes to Medicaid and Medicare, and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) liens,” he said. “The law is complicated in that area and always seems to be in a state of flux. When settling a civil claim with injuries, you need to take into account if other parties who’ve paid medical bills will get any money back.”

ITLA also offers a few year-end CLEs, including the popular “Last Chance Seminar” on Dec. 8, a wrap-up of the major changes in civil and criminal law. ITLA will also host video replay CLEs between Dec. 1 and 21 from 9 a.m. to noon most days. Those CLEs are open to members and non-members. More information on these CLE opportunities is available on ITLA’s website, https://www.indianatriallawyers.org/, which says there will be free popcorn for viewers.

Another way ITLA helps educate its members is by introducing them to other ITLA lawyers so they can learn from each other. Doerhman said the listserv for sustaining members has been helpful for networking, “especially when I’ve needed to find attorneys around the state.”

President-elect John O. Feighner, an attorney with the Fort Wayne firm Haller & Colvin, said the listserv has been the biggest change in the organization since he joined in 1977. He added that he uses it in his practice daily, and he has noticed others using it as a tool to post questions about case law while in a trial or ask for advice on how to make a persuasive closing argument.

john feighner Feighner

Meeting other attorneys on the listserv, Doehrman added, has helped him when seeking advice about appearing in courts around the state in counties where he may be unfamiliar with local rules or the way a judge runs trials in his or her courtroom.

For instance, he said members have shared with each other how judges in their counties handle pre-trial conferences, what judges expect in terms of evidence, how much time judges allow for voir dire, how much time attorneys have in certain courts for opening and closing arguments, and other parts of the process that might vary slightly from court to court due to local rules or the way judges manage their courts.

Feighner added that members of the new lawyers section also have many opportunities to learn from more seasoned attorneys in the organization, something he benefited from when he was first starting out and because his mentor, Sherrill William Colvin, suggested he join.

A second role of the ITLA is to submit amicus briefs for appeals of cases that have issues that could affect plaintiffs in similar cases. All ITLA members are encouraged to share cases with ITLA’s Amicus Committee that they think would deserve clarification in the form of an amicus brief from ITLA. Committee members also try to keep an eye on cases themselves. However, if a case is brought to the committee’s attention early on, there is a better chance that the committee will be able to address the issue and assign a member to write a brief that will meet the filing deadline, Doerhman said. Sometimes when committee members look for cases when they have time, by the time they find one on their own it may be too late to make the filing deadline.

“A lot of common law is refined and defined and expanded and explained at the appellate level,” Doerhman said. “We try to educate members that if they have a case that gets appealed and has an issue that goes beyond the facts, … those cases can have a wide application,” those should be shared with and reviewed by the Amicus Committee.

After the committee decides to submit an amicus brief, an ITLA member will volunteer to write and sign the brief, which is then approved by ITLA before it is submitted to an appellate court, he said.

“This organization is out there looking at the bigger issues,” he said. The amicus briefs ITLA submits can make a positive impact on the civil justice system, and members can be a part of that, he added.

One recent appeal involving an amicus brief submitted by ITLA was an adult wrongful death case, Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund v. Beverly Brown, et al., No. 49A02-1001-CT-00080. It was transmitted on transfer Nov. 23, the last time the docket was updated before IL deadline.

Doehrman said the issue of interest to ITLA was whether attorney’s fees could be recovered in addition to other fees. If so, he said, plaintiffs could possibly recover more compensation than the current $300,000 cap allows.

Two Court of Appeals panels, including the panel in this case, determined attorney’s fees could be recovered, while another panel said they couldn’t be recovered.

The third goal of ITLA is to follow legislation at the state level that is relevant to trial lawyers. Doehrman and Feighner said it was too early to say what they expect for the 2011 session, but they will keep members informed.

Feighner added that there will be an executive committee retreat in February, where members will plan the legislative strategy based on bills that have been introduced by then. That retreat will also include discussions about board development and membership activities for the group’s 2011-12 schedule.

Feighner, who will become president at next spring’s annual meeting, said he planned to continue enhancements for membership, with a focus on attracting young lawyers and diverse members to the organization.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  5. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

ADVERTISEMENT