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Sudden death of Indianapolis attorney saddens legal community

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The Indianapolis legal community is in mourning after learning of the sudden death Tuesday night of attorney Joe Russell.

He was a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP and was a well-known and respected member of the Indianapolis bar. His career included both private practice and public service. Also, he was active in several community and professional associations.

Ron Walker, of counsel at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, described Russell’s death as “devastating.”

“The Indianapolis legal community has lost a real star,” Walker said. “This is the loss not only of a star but of an extraordinarily well-liked star.”

C. Joseph Russell graduated from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1980. Three years later, he was appointed to the post of assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. From 1985 to 1992, he served on the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.

He joined Krieg DeVault as a partner in 2009 where he focused his practice on white collar criminal defense and complex litigation.

“We are deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of our beloved and valued friend and partner,” said Michael E. Williams, managing partner at Krieg DeVault. “The Krieg DeVault family, and those that had the good fortune of knowing and working with Joe, will greatly miss his friendship and professionalism. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support.”

Outside of the office, Russell served in leadership capacities of the Hendricks County, Hamilton County and Indiana State bar associations as well as the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association. He was a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, serving as president in 1999, and a distinguished fellow with the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

“Joe was an absolute force in this organization,” said Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, current president of the Indianapolis Bar Association. “You would be hard pressed to find another leader in this organization’s 130-year history that had as much charisma, follow-through, and good common sense as Joe.”

At Blomquist’s request, Russell became chair of the Judicial Excellence Committee. She praised his incredible ethics, strength and straight-forward manner as providing invaluable leadership when the committee conducted judicial evaluations during election years.

“…I always appreciated his candor, humor and straight talk,” Blomquist said. “This loss to this legal community and this legal family is unimaginable.”

During his career, Russell received numerous awards and citations from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Indiana State Police.

Walker got to know Russell through their work on the board of the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society. There, they both discovered they had each served in the U.S. Marines. Walker remembered that Russell would sometimes sign his name in emails as Lance Cpl. Russell.

Reflecting on their military experience, Walker noted the “Marines’ Hymn” includes lyrics about Marines guarding the street of heaven.

“If that’s true,” Walker said, “Joe is out there on one of the streets in heaven taking care of traffic. I think he’d like that.”




 

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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