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Leadership in Law 2014: Samantha E. DeWester

City prosecutor, public access counselor, deputy corporation counsel, City of Indianapolis • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 2007

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15col-DeWester.jpg Samantha DeWester (IL Photo/ Eric Learned)

Although Samantha DeWester has been a practicing attorney for just six years, her legal career began 20 years ago. She’s held management positions in the legal department at Bank One and at Feiwell & Hannoy P.C., working full time while attending law school at night. Now she holds three high-level jobs for the city of Indianapolis. She is not afraid of long hours or a daunting task; she views those as a challenge.

Active in bar associations and committees, Samantha is a sounding board for friends and associates. She is an advocate for programs that help lawyers strive to be better lawyers, and her personal and professional style is viewed as a refreshing example of civility in the legal profession.

You worked in management in the legal departments at several companies before becoming a lawyer. Did you always want to be an attorney or did working in the legal departments inspire you to pursue the law?

I think I knew I wanted to become a lawyer from a young age. My mother worked as a secretary in the Court of Appeals for nearly 20 years, so I grew up around a ton of lawyers. She, more than anything, inspired me to become an attorney.

You’re job title alone sounds overwhelming! What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

I work hard and play hard. I decided, long ago, what is most important in my life and I try to devote time to those things and people. Otherwise, I do not feel like a complete human being.

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

When I was an intern at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, I was able to try many cases. It would be fun to try those same cases now, with the knowledge and experience I have gained.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your mentor?

Mentoring is something I truly believe our practice is missing. In my early career, I did not really establish a mentor/mentee relationship with any one particular person. Instead, I have taken lessons from multiple lawyers by whom I am surrounded. I continually strive to help newer lawyers in their endeavors. It is our duty.

If you could meet and spend the day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?

My uncle, Lloyd DeWester. He passed away when I was a teenager. His granddaughter and I are the first female lawyers in our family. It would be great to hear his experiences and advice.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

Working to keep our city and neighborhoods clean and safe. I have lived here my entire life so whatever the problem, I will work relentlessly to fix it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Life is too short for guilt.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

I have always worked in government practice. I love what I do. Being able to help others is a fantastic feeling. I love our city and the great folks here. It is a pleasure being able to serve!

What’s something about you not many people know?

I have mentored kids for most of my adult life. I was a Big Sister for many years, mentored incarcerated boys at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility and have currently mentored my “little sister” for nearly a decade.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

Because you typically only hear about lawyers when something salacious or negative is going on. The media typically only reports when good lawyers go bad or when a case is very controversial.
 

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

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