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Mediating Justices: Former justices find that ADR is often a fertile field for life after the court

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

After years deciding disputes in the state’s highest court, two former justices now devote at least part of their practices to helping feuding parties find their own resolutions.

Former Indiana Supreme Court Justices Ted Boehm and Myra Selby each count corporate clients in their mediation and alternative dispute resolution portfolios, Boehm with Van Winkle Baten Dispute Resolution and Selby with Ice Miller LLP.

apb_tedboehm02-15col.jpg Retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm sits on Monument Circle near the offices of Van Winkle Baten Dispute Resolution, where he practices primarily in mediation and arbitration. (IL photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Boehm said his practice is primarily ADR; Selby said ADR makes up only about 10 to 15 percent of her practice, but it’s growing. Other current and former justices are certified in alternative dispute resolution if only to understand the process, but few have much, if any, practical experience as mediators.

For Boehm, handling his own schedule of mediation and arbitration cases allows flexibility.

“The common thread of all of them is I can do whatever I want when I want,” he said. “I can act like a retired person if I want to.”

It’s not like having a real job, Boehm said, because he sets and keeps appointments on a sort of freelance basis, allowing time for golf and travel, freeing time to spend “the dark days of February in Florida.

Besides, Boehm’s expertise comes at a price that limits the number of disputes in which his services would be sought. He charges $400 an hour for mediation, more for arbitration, and more again for legal advice, though he declined to quote those fees.

“I don’t get asked to mediate more than I can handle,” he said. Most of the conflicts presented to him involve multiple parties, usually involving finance, business litigation and/or transactional law.

While most mediation and a fair amount of arbitration is confidential, Boehm recalled one high-profile case he arbitrated: A 2012 dispute involving Chevrolet and Honda over an IndyCar ruling concerning the specifications the racing governing body would allow for turbochargers.

Boehm recalls having to learn on the fly about the technology involved in open-wheel racing, and he ultimately affirmed IndyCar’s ruling allowing a Honda turbocharger design that Chevy objected to. “It was basically a conclusion that IndyCar had properly issued the regulations and could enforce them,” he said.

Boehm’s ADR practice typically involves business disputes or unsolved legal issues whose results are unpredictable, he explained. Selby said a good volume of her mediation work has involved health care or insurance or corporate contract issues.

Neither Boehm nor Selby were sure if their tenures as justices would have a persuasive impact on parties that come to them for mediation services.

“That’s hard to know,” Selby said. “I believe that it equips me with a certain perspective and set of experiences that’s valuable to the process. I think the appellate court experience really necessitates a perspective of objectivity, and that’s one of the most important things to bring to mediation.”

John Krauss runs an intensive, week-long, 40-hour public policy mediation course at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law that fulfills the basic requirement to become a civil mediator in Indiana. He has trained 45 trial court judges and two appellate judges along with third-year law students who typically take the course.

Krauss said he believes experienced judges may be at a disadvantage in some ways when they later become mediators. He tells judges who take the course, “One of the things you have to do is make your role very clear to the parties, because you’re not a judge, and they have to know you’re not a judge. You’re not going to decide.

“A lot of deference is going to be given to you because of the role you’ve had, and you’ve got to diminish that,” Krauss said.

Unlike their roles as fact-finders, Krauss said, judges who take on a later career as a mediator have to acquire a new skill set – namely, navigating parties toward a solution in which both sides can feel they have made their positions clear. And the solution might not be one found in the law.

selby Selby

“A judge could never order someone to say they’re sorry,” Krauss said. “Sometimes in mediation, it’s not the money, but being heard, and being validated, and having someone say they’re sorry, that solves it.”

It’s unknown whether anyone said “sorry” in the recent dispute among Lake Superior judges in which the Supreme Court dispatched former Justice Frank Sullivan to mediate – his first and only foray into ADR. The matter involved multiple claims on a single judgeship, and Sullivan said the effort wasn’t successful. Ultimately, the Indiana Supreme Court decided the matter.

“It was a long shot,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson acknowledged of Sullivan’s mediation effort. “He had a unique command of the political history and was well aware of how things happen in Lake County. He was respected by all the parties, and they knew he had that knowledge and that historical perspective.”

Selby is unconvinced that former judges and justices may have a disadvantage as mediators. Rather, she thinks their experience makes them better able to focus on the possible solutions.

“I think we have an understanding of both the purpose of the process and the alternatives along the continuum of alternative resolution services,” she said.

While former Chief Justice Randall Shepard said he’s had no experience as a mediator, he believes judges and justices may be ideally suited to the task.

“I think who mediates does add something, and there are people who are able to sustain the attention of the combatants, if you will,” Shepard said. “That’s something a former judge or former justice can do.”

Krauss said he believes judges do have an advantage in evaluative mediation, in which they can share with parties based on their experience the likely outcomes of cases or what they believe juries think about in particular conflicts.

Boehm concedes that in some cases parties to mediation may be influenced by his past life as a justice. “I do get some cases where I think the parties actually want me to give them an answer,” he said.

In instances where both parties ask him for his opinion, Boehm said, “I try to point out to each side what it seems to me are the weaknesses of their positions on both sides” so they can recognize the risks they may experience going forward.

Studies show an increase in the use of ADR, Selby said, a trend she believes bodes well for the legal profession and parties that otherwise might resort to litigation. “It’s a more efficient and economical way to resolve disputes,” she surmised.

Dickson is required by mandatory retirement to depart the bench no later than July 2016, and he said working as a mediator in retirement is a possibility. “It might well happen one day, if lawyers will have me,” he quipped.•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. 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.

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