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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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