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Sidebars: Landmark serves up more than history

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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

Sometimes you just have to say, “Ahh, what the hell?”

Having been privileged to attend the historic investiture of the Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, I was able to learn the secret as to how one esteemed judge of the Southern District decides difficult cases. The Hon. Sarah Evans Barker quipped at the ceremony that sometimes with a difficult case you just say, “. . . ahh, what the hell?” and then decide. Taking a stab at the 7th Circuit appellate jurists, Judge Barker opined her reasoning is often better than theirs.

So, one brilliant autumn day Jenny and I employed Judge Barker’s philosophy. We, along with our associate Tyler Helmond, had a rare day with no afternoon court commitments. We decided to make the trek to Zaharakos, a recently restored historic landmark restaurant near the courthouse in Columbus, Indiana.

Zaharakos first opened as a candy store in 1900 and it quickly evolved into one of this country’s finest ice cream parlors. It eventually matriculated into a full-service restaurant in addition to its ice cream and soda specialties. Greeted by a smiling staff, an impressive 50-foot onyx bar, and deeply rich mahogany walls, from the moment you enter it is like taking a step back in time.

Jenny ordered the corn chowder soup du jour, while I went with a cup of chili for starters. I know Jenny pretty well. She typically is a loquacious sort. When she is silent when eating, aside from a few muffled groans, she likes her food. When she incessantly talks, that means she doesn’t. It is safe to say this was a relatively quiet lunch.

My chili reminded me of Mom’s. Meaty and laced with stewed tomato chunks and beans. Not overbearingly spicy, just a flavorful, uncomplicated dish. In short, it was wonderful.

Next came the entrees. Jenny ordered the Gom sandwich; basically a flavorful Sloppy Joe with cheese, a.k.a., Gom Cheese Brr-Grr, grilled Panini-style between two slices of thick white bread, which I think was sourdough although the menu represented otherwise. Again, more silence from her with the exception of her offering me a taste. I was glad she did. This was far from Manwich® and Wonder® buns.

Tyler went with the Artisan Grilled Cheese and Avocado. This sandwich was again served Panini-style and consisted of provolone and parmesan cheeses along with avocados and tomatoes. Another far cry from your basic grilled cheese.

I ordered off the small appetite menu and selected a Coney dog with cheese. How they concluded this was for small appetites is beyond me because the dog was a full quarter-pound, beef frank, remarkably similar to a Nathan’s Hot Dog®. Topped with a meaty Coney sauce that stood apart from the chili, this would have been satisfying enough on its own if it weren’t for the fabulous fries that we ordered with the sandwiches. About a quarter-inch thick and golden brown with the skin on these perfectly complemented the sandwiches.

Despite not being hungry, in the best interest of you, the readers, we had to order ice cream. I chose an ice cream float, comprised of vanilla ice cream and raspberry soda. Tyler opted for a root beer soda and while Jenny eyed the five-scoop “Big-Z,” we talked her down to a brownie sundae. My only criticism of the sodas and the drinks in general is their authenticity. Just as the restoration of this historic landmark is painstakingly detailed, that same historic character translates to the sodas. The straws they use for the drinks are truly old-fashioned paper straws that, well, taste like paper. So these straws distract a bit from the experience but in a strange way add to the historic significance of this place.

So, someday employ Judge Barker’s philosophy and say, “ahh, what the hell?” We were there and back in about two hours, easy enough for those practicing from Indianapolis southward to accomplish. Better yet, it is only 3 miles off Interstate 65 so if you are traveling with your family at some point, take a small detour and go for lunch or dinner. Experience a bit, and bite, of Indiana history. Zaharakos, 329 Washington Street, Columbus, IN 47201. (812) 378-1900. www.zaharakos.com.•

____________

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts, and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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