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IBA: Peters strives mightily in law

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It's probably not surprising to those who know Steve Peters that he quoted Shakespeare while talking about his legal career. But many people might not know that Peters, a civil litigator with Harrison & Moberly LLP, was a self-professed math and English geek in high school and college.

He grew up in Charlestown, Ind., and attended high school at The Webb School, a boarding school in Bell Buckle, Tenn. He could have graduated a year early, but instead took college math classes at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill over the summer and came back to The Webb School for his senior year. Even though he'd always been considered mature for his years, he wisely determined he wasn't ready for the temptations life on a college campus presented.

He double majored in English and economics at Amherst College, graduating with honors, and came back to Indiana for law school at Indiana University in Bloomington. Peters is the chair of the IBA's Litigation Section and has served as a member of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Board of Directors, a member of the Bench Bar Committee and the Appellate Practice Section Executive Committee.

His love of the language and of all things analytical has served him well during his career, which started as an intern with the late Hon. S. Hugh Dillin of the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and then to the firm known as Stewart Irwin Gilliom Fuller & Meyer, now Stewart & Irwin PC.

Peters was with Stewart & Irwin until 2006, when he joined Harrison & Moberly. His primary litigation and appellate practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, employment/labor and complex business disputes.

The Shakespeare quote? It's from "The Taming of the Shrew" (Act 1, Scene 2) and seems to sum it all up for Peters: "And do as adversaries do in law - Strive mightily but eat and drink as friends."

IBA: What motivated you to become a lawyer?

Peters: No one in my family was a lawyer. When I was at The Webb School, I became friends with Wilson Sims Jr., whose father was a founding partner with Bass Berry Sims, a firm in Nashville, Tenn. I got to know his dad who was also on Webb's Board of Trustees. To pass each year's English requirements, we had to give a memorized speech. During graduation week, there was a school-wide contest for the best declamation. Wilson Sims Sr. heard me speak and told me I would make a fine lawyer. So that planted the seed.

IBA: What is your favorite legal phrase or terminology and why?

Peters: I have always thought that lawyers tend to use Latin in court and in briefs like squids use ink: it tends to obscure, not clarify arguments. We lawyers have a hard enough time using English. So I try to stay away from Latin phrases and legalese if possible.

IBA: What would you tell a 5-year-old if he or she asked "What is a lawyer?"

Peters: In simple terms, I view a lawyer as a solver of problems, someone who makes peace and avoids a fight. But lawyers are also people who will stand up and fight for what's right if peace cannot be made. So we are peace-loving fighters.

IBA: Decaf or caffeinated?

Peters: Decaf. Although I just realized I didn't specify when someone offered me this cup of coffee.

IBA: What is your most memorable case or client?

Peters: During my legal career, I have handled over 100 appeals in Indiana and other jurisdictions, so there are a couple that come to mind. But the most significant is probably Webb v. Jarvis, which the Indiana Supreme Court handed down in 1991. I was Dr. Webb's appellate attorney and I formulated and advocated the three-part test which the court adopted to determine whether there is an actionable duty of care to maintain a negligence claim. The Webb duty analysis test is a basic rule under Indiana tort law and has been cited and relied upon in many subsequent cases.

IBA: What have you downloaded most recently to your iPod?

Peters: I'm a frustrated musician; I've played the guitar since I was in sixth grade. My musical tastes are very eclectic. Lately, I've been listening to Michael Hedges, a guitarist, Al DiMeloa, Leo Kottke and Dave Matthews Band.

IBA: What is the most challenging part of being a lawyer?

Peters: Justice Cardozo once said that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened by conditions. I love lawyers, but we are also adversaries. We argue and fight, but must do so in an ethical way. At the end of the day, it's all about relationships, though. So I think the best lawyers do their jobs but form good relationships with their adversaries, if that's possible.

IBA: I am involved in the IBA because...

Peters: I think it's important to give back. We're in a profession, not a trade, and that comes with the responsibility to give back either with donations of our money or our time. Being involved in the bar makes me feel good and helps my clients because the law is about relationships. Strengthening my relationships with the bench, my colleagues and my adversaries by being involved in the IBA ulti mately helps me and my clients.

IBA: Name one thing on your desk you can't live without.


Peters: Well, the computer is too obvious. I'd have to say my iPod; when I'm working on a project, I like playing piano music in the background. Recently it's been Keith Jarrett, an improvisational jazz pianist.

IBA: Name one mentor and how he or she influenced you.

Peters: Al Meyer, James J. Stewart and Bill Irwin - I can't name just one. Also Judge Dillin. They made me a better lawyer and a better person. That's what I try to do when I mentor young lawyers now. I remember Al Meyer overheard me remark one day that I had won my first five or six jury trials in a row since being sworn in and joining the firm. He immediately took me into his office and told me, "Steve, don't ever say that again - all that means is that you're not trying enough cases."

He also taught me to be mindful of how I treated other people, because it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but you can lose it in just one minute.

Of course, I must also add my parents for setting wonderful examples and for having faith in me. They are my heroes.
 

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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