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Lake County leadership makes strides

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Michael Jasaitis gives his family effusive praise for instilling the values that propelled him to the presidency of the Lake County Bar Association. But competitive collegiate Nintendo also might have helped.

Jasaitis recalled that as a Valparaiso University freshman, a resident assistant paid a late-night call to his dorm room because the Tecmo Bowl video game and its players had allegedly disturbed him. The RA suggested the students sign a paper acknowledging their purported transgression. Jasaitis said his friends were willing to go along, but he sensed a developing injustice.

nwi1-15col.jpg Indiana Justice Loretta Rush (above, top right) reads the oath to leaders in the Lake County Bar Association Jan. 17. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

“I didn’t think we made enough noise to wake up our RA,” Jasaitis said in an interview in his Crown Point office at Austgen Kuiper & Associates P.C. “I called witnesses in the rooms in between our room and our RA’s room.”

His dorm neighbors hadn’t heard anything. “We defeated the theory of the RA that the noise was able to defy the laws of physics and enter his room without entering the rooms in between.”

Jasaitis recalled the experience as an early realization that he might have a future as a lawyer. He’s since become one of the state’s most noted attorneys for representing students who get into scrapes.

“The part of my practice I enjoy most for certain is representation of students at the high school level and before who are facing disciplinary or eligibility disputes,” Jasaitis said. “There is no better feeling than getting a call from a parent or student … and hearing that I made a difference in this child’s life.”

The evening he was installed as LCBA president in Merrillville concluded a day in which he had represented a student before a panel of the Indiana High School Athletic Association in Indianapolis. Indiana Justice Steven David acknowledged when introducing Jasaitis at his induction ceremony that Jasaitis was “probably the expert in IHSAA litigation.”

Well-represented region

Jasaitis was installed on Jan. 17 in an event that drew David, fellow Indiana Justice and keynote speaker Loretta Rush, and attorneys from around the Northwest Region and across the state.

Rush recalled attending elementary school in the Region. “Lake County has three justices on the Indiana Supreme Court with Lake County roots,” Rush said before administering the oath to Jasaitis. “I’m one of your own.”

Rush’s message to Jasaitis and members of the Lake County bar was to strive for civility and find balance, particularly with family and friends. “The temptation of being a prisoner to our profession is just there,” Rush said.

Indiana State Bar Association President Daniel Vinovich also hails from Lake County. He said Jasaitis was a rising star in the Lake County bar whose leadership of the Young Lawyers Section of the ISBA was recognized by the American Bar Association.

“I know him very well,” Vinovich said. “He’s a wonderful person and a great attorney, by the way, and a remarkable leader. It’s going to be a very positive experience for the Lake County Bar Association to have a leader like him.”

Vinovich also noted the leadership of LCBA Vice President Mike Tolbert.

“We are blessed with some wonderful leadership coming from Lake County,” Vinovich said. Jasaitis put it this way in his installation address to the bar: “When we speak at the state level, people listen.”

nwi3-15col.jpg From left, justices Steven David and Loretta Rush pose with 2013 Lake County Bar Association President Michael Jasaitis and 2012 President Hon. John Sedia. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

Tolbert and Jasaitis also represent something of a youth movement for the LCBA, each having practiced a dozen years. “He’s energetic, spirited, really positive,” Tolbert said of Jasaitis.

Jennifer Irons of Sendak & Stamper in Crown Point conducted a reunion of sorts at Jasaitis’ installation ceremony, gathering with members of the inaugural Indiana State Bar Association Leadership Development Academy that graduated last year.

Jasaitis, too, was a member of that class, and among his peers in the group was David P. Lynch, a solo practitioner who traveled to Lake County from West Harrison in Dearborn County, some 230 miles. Others in the leadership class came from Indianapolis and elsewhere.

“A lot of us have come solely for the purpose of supporting Michael,” Irons said.

Big plans for 2013

Jasaitis presented an ambitious agenda to LCBA members after his induction.

“One of the goals I have for 2013 is to continue to bridge the gap between our bench and our bar,” he said. “It’s very integral to the success of this organization.”

Promoting diversity will continue to be a mission, but so will shining a light on the good work that attorneys do, Jasaitis said. “My theme is going to be … I’m proud to be a lawyer, and lawyers do good things.”

To that end, the LCBA’s public relations committee is being revived, and the bar will aim to publicize through its newsletter and other avenues the positive contributions attorneys are making in their communities.

It’s no secret that many in the general public have a negative view of attorneys, Jasaitis told the bar. “The only folks who can truly change the opinion of lawyers are ourselves.

“You need to let us know the good things you’re doing,” he said. “We want to showcase the fact that you’re doing it.”

nwi2-15col.jpg Lake County Bar Association 2013 President Michael Jasaitis stands before a picture of the courthouse in Crown Point located across the street from his law office at Austgen Kuiper & Associates P.C. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

Jasaitis also announced that the Indiana Supreme Court has scheduled a rare traveling oral argument to take place in Lake County on May 9. Time and location had not been confirmed at IL deadline.

Another ambition for the coming year is for the LCBA to offer more continuing legal education opportunities. Jasaitis said the local organization could offer more instruction by its members and for its members. “There’s absolutely no reason more programming can’t be sponsored by the Lake County Bar Association,” he said.

All of those things will help the LCBA be a thriving and vibrant organization, he said.

Family first

At his induction, Jasaitis was quick to credit his family for his achievements, including wife Katrina, 2-year-old son Jonas, and 11-month-old daughter Stella. “My friends continually remind me you are way out of my league,” he said to his wife.

Jasaitis’ mother and grandparents also attended his induction, and he made sure to mention them in his remarks, including his grandparents’ celebration of 65 years of marriage.

“My mother and my grandparents and others in my family gave me a down-to-earth, non-pretentious view of how things should work in this world,” he said in an interview afterward.

“Generosity, fairness, and the need to see both sides of an argument. … I think I’ve incorporated that into my leadership as well as my practice, and I have them to thank for that.”•
 

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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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