ILNews

Leadership in Law 2012: Patrick A. Shoulders

Partner, Ziemer Stayman Weitzel & Shoulders, Evansville Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

April 25, 2012
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Pat Shoulders (IL Photo/Jordan Barclay)

Patrick Shoulders is a prime example of what attorneys should do for the profession and their communities. Not only is he a well-respected trial attorney, but he dedicates a great deal of his time toward volunteer activities and helping young attorneys with an interest in litigation become better lawyers. Since 2002, he has co-chaired and served as a faculty member at the Trial Advocacy Skills College Trial Camp, and he is an active member and volunteer for the Evansville and Indiana State bar associations.

The best advice I ever received was
be yourself in the courtroom!

I wish I had known when I graduated law school that
nobody bats 1000 in this business.

My best stress reliever is
running.

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be
a teacher.

In 2012, I’d like to
see my granddaughters more.

The three words that best describe me are
irreverent, impatient and inventive.

In my community, I’m passionate about
Indiana University, politics, public education, and all the arts.

In the movie about my life,
Hal Holbrook playing Mark Twain would play me.

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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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