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New project to emphasize dangers of texting while driving

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association’s College of Fellows used to be a way to honor respected members of the profession. But in recent years, it has become much more.

Now beginning his second term as College of Fellows president, Steve Williams of Terre Haute’s Williams Law Firm explained the evolution of the College of Fellows.

williams-steve.jpg Williams

“It was initially just a form of recognition of outstanding trial lawyers association members, but over the last several years, we’ve chosen to make a major emphasis of the College of Fellows a yearly community service project,” he said.

The fellows previously raised $50,000 in order to create care packages for soldiers in Afghanistan. They also raised funds for a program that sent basic necessities and food home with students in need, in association with Gleaners Food Bank.

In the coming year, the fellows will take on a project that is especially important to one ITLA member.

“Last year, Neil Comer’s granddaughter was killed as a result of texting while driving, and as sometimes happens in a tragedy like this, Neil reached out to the ITLA asking that all of us use this as a learning experience with our own families and our own friends, try to use this as a teaching experience to educate families and friends, try to educate about the dangers of texting while driving,” Williams said.

Many members responded by advertising about the dangers of texting while driving. Williams said there was consensus that the issue was so important that it could be an excellent project for the College of Fellows.

The project is still in development, and several approaches have been discussed.

“We might produce an anti-texting video that could be used to reach high-school-age kids. As we’re getting into this, we’re finding that there are several videos out there – one produced by the American Association for Justice, which is a national organization of plaintiffs’ trial lawyers – so we don’t want to reinvent the wheel if there’s a good video out there. Our project may be to deliver that to high-school-age kids,” Williams said.

The fellows will work with the ITLA Young Lawyers section to implement a program by the end of 2012.

Outside the courtroom

Williams believes that many people may not realize the positive change that many ITLA members are making in their communities.

ITLA member Steven Langer, of Langer & Langer in Valparaiso, created the Porter County Reading Foundation which helps children learn to read. Indianapolis lawyer Tom Hastings of The Hastings Law Firm has offered free office space to the People’s Burn Foundation, and Bruce Kehoe of Wilson Kehoe & Winingham was one of 11 people who raised $5.5 million for a new burn center at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis. These are just a few of the efforts initiated by ITLA members, Williams said.

One of the qualifications for inclusion in the College of Fellows is active participation in community service activities. And overall, fellows are the hardest working, most respected members of the ITLA, Williams said. Currently, only 73 attorneys are members of this prestigious group.

“I just think that the people that are in the college are very, very proud of the fact that the primary emphasis of the organization has become community service projects,” Williams said. “It’s nice to pat yourself on the back or be patted on the back about being an outstanding trial lawyer, but this really highlights what is not very well known about the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and that is so many of our members are so involved in their local communities or even on a statewide level with community service.”•
 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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