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Longtime trial lawyer Townsend dies

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Indiana has lost a pioneer who has been a fixture in the personal injury legal community for more than six decades.

Earl C. Townsend Jr., who co-founded Indianapolis law firm Townsend & Townsend and went on to become one of the most recognized names in the legal community, has died. He was 92.

Along with his brother John, he helped establish the law firm Townsend & Townsend in downtown Indianapolis after graduating in 1940 from the University of Michigan Law School. He remained a senior partner since then, watching three generations of his family follow in his footsteps there.

Through the years, Townsend became a part of numerous legal organizations and received various distinguished fellow and barrister awards, including Indiana's Sagamore of the Wabash and a Champion of Justice Award in 1989 from the State Bar of Michigan.

While Townsend had an unequivocally illustrious legal career as a trial lawyer, other aspects of his life shone just as bright.

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981 for his play in high school and at DePauw University. He also had been a Big Ten basketball referee. Townsend's diverse list of accomplishments, according to his obituary, included his being the first television announcer for the Indianapolis 500, a composer, actor, and honorary chief of the Black River-Swan Creek Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

One of his life's passions led him to write a 740-page book entitled "Birdstones of the North American Indian" - which ties in with his having one of the largest and best collections of prehistoric stone Indian artifacts. The tribe recognized him for this effort, making him honorary chief in 1971 and giving the name Senee Pen Eshee Na Na, meaning "Birdstone Man."

Some of Townsend's other accomplishments include composing a waltz entitled "Moon of Halloween" and his work as a radio-television announcer on WIRE, WFBM, and WFBM-TV.

Visitation is 1 p.m. Thursday at Meridian Street United Methodist Church, 5500 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis. A private burial will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to Arsenal Technical High School, DePauw University, or Meridian Street United Methodist Church. Condolences can also be made online at www.flannerbuchanan.com.
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  1. 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.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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