ILNews

Leadership in Law 2013: Hon. Calvin D. Hawkins

Judge, Lake Superior Court, East Chicago Howard University School of Law

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calvin-hawkins01-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Staying in school is a very important issue to Lake Superior Judge Calvin D. Hawkins, so much so that he created the “It’s Cool to Stay in School” program. He raises funds for the program that encourages high school students in northwest Indiana to graduate, and many on his staff serve as volunteers. He’s been on the Lake County bench since 2007, and his rulings are often described as even-handed and solidly based in the law. Calvin makes himself available for attorneys to drop in or call for advice on handling legal matters or for counseling in life/work balance. He has been known to keep his courtroom open and work through lunch on matters such as protective orders, and lawyers visiting the courthouse have even encountered him outside picking up trash, leading some to call him “the Grime Fighter.” The judge is also an ordained minister.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
Teaching on the university level.

If you could meet and spend a day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?
Thurgood Marshall. When he handled cases in Southern rural counties, he was a profile in courage.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Education. I currently head an initiative, IT’S COOL TO STAY IN SCHOOL, which gives two scholarships each year to graduating seniors. We interact with students, teachers, parents and educational administrators.

In life or law, what bugs you?
Political gamesmanship and academic dishonesty.

If a drink or sandwich were to be named after you, what would it be called and what would be in it?
The “HAWKWICH!!” Whole-wheat bread, lite mayo, lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and Smithfield ham.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to fly.

What is the most challenging thing about being a judge?
Dealing with other judges.

If you could pick a theme song to describe your life, what would it be?
“High & Lifted Up.”

What class in law school did you find the most difficult?
All of them. I hated law school. That’s why I’m still in school at the University of Nevada working on a MJS degree. Go figure!

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Don’t look back!

Would a world without 24/7 technology be a good or bad thing?
Great thing!!!

Numerous TV shows center around court, lawyers and their practices. Are any of them close to realistic?
Very few.

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  2. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  4. 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.

  5. 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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