IBA: Jim Voyles remarks

The following is reprint of the remarks delivered by James H. Voyles, Jr. upon acceptance of The Hon. Paul H. Buchanan Jr. Award of Excellence

Thank you to my friend Kevin McGoff for that great introduction which I am not sure I deserve.

At this time I would like to recognize my family, who are here to share in this experience with me. My wife, Joan, my son, David Voyles and his wife, Lynn. Our daughter, Calia Watson, our daughter, Jennifer Chan and her husband, Courtney, and our son, Robert Thomas with 4 of our 16 grandchildren. Two of our other children, Shannon and Ron were unable to come as they both live out of town.

I would also like to recognize the people i practice law with, Dennis Zahn, Jess Paul, Frank Hogan, Sharon Merriman, Fred Vaiana, Jennifer Lukemeyer, Mary Karen Zahn, John Fierek, Mark Webb, David Deal and Tyler Helmond.

My staff, Nancy Potter my secretary of 36 years; Connie Ebenger another one of my secretaries of 13 years; Cynthia Deeter our paralegal of 11 years; Audrey Ford our receptionist for 16 years, and Bill McCallister our investigator of 15 years. They have all stuck with me over this long career and probably have done all the real work in our office.

I would also like to thank all my friends who have taken time out of their busy day to enjoy this time with us.

Now I would like to take you back about five months ago when I was at the beginning of my three month murder trial in New Jersey. We were on a noon recess when I was checking my messages. And yes, I have moved in from the “dark ages” – I do carry a Blackberry.

Although I do not permit clients to send me emails, for obvious reasons, I did receive an email from then IndyBar President Chris Hickey.

I was to call her as soon as I could about an important bar association matter. Well, it was a nice fall day and I was out in the park, which is across from the courthouse in Hackensack, New Jersey, and since our lunch hour was only about half over I sat down on one of the benches to make my call.

It was then I learned that I had been chosen to receive the Paul H. Buchanan, Jr., award. My first reaction to Chris was, that I was sure I did not deserve this very distinguished honor. When I thought of the people who have received this award, I was sure they must have made a mistake.

Like my old friend, Harry Wilson, used to love to say, “We’re just a couple of simple country lawyers,” he of the civil variety and me who represents the down trodden, oppressed and the misunderstood people of this world.

Then, it began to sink in that Chris was serious and that they had not made a mistake. It was really their intention to give me this honor.

It is truly the highlight of my career at the bar. When I think of Judge Buchanan, who I knew from the beginning of my practice in 1968, I think of the high standards he set for both himself, for this profession, and for our own bar association.

I must also mention at this time, Rosie Felton, our former executive secretary of this bar association who would pick out members and tell them to get involved, stay involved, and continue to make this bar association the best in the country. I was lucky enough to be one of the many young lawyers Rosie encouraged, along with a number of prior recipients of this award. This room is filled with brilliant and talented lawyers and judges who have carried this association through the years to some of its greatest achievements.

This also could not have been done without the wonderful efforts of Julie Armstrong and all her great staff.

When I was a young man, my father and my uncle George Ober, encouraged me at every turn to make sure I went into the field of law, and they were right. Even though I thought I wanted to be a race car driver, I have now confined myself to street racing, in cars that I love, and in obscured parts of the interstate that are not routinely patrolled.

For the last 42 years I have enjoyed being a lawyer in assisting people who need help. Like my friend, Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville, Georgia, said when he spoke to us at a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers meeting, “I have no apologies to make for the role I fulfill. I am unafraid and refuse to be bullied by anyone. We do good and necessary work. The cause of liberty, justice and the pursuit of freedom is a noble one that has fired the soul and conscience of lawyers from the time of Cicero to now. It is our plain duty and nothing more. We must fight on, and never surrender.”

So join me now, to celebrate our role as both a lawyer and a member of this bar association, for we all must continue to strive for the best, both in ourselves and for this association.

It is not possible for me to come here on this occasion without thinking of my own mentors: George Ober, Charlie Symmes, Dick Cardwell, John Dillon, my father and mother, and my great friend, Nick Thiros, who passed away this past September, and a host of great lawyers and judges I have learned from over the years.

If I have any advice for young lawyers who want to spend most of their careers in a courtroom, go over and watch some of the good lawyers in your firm, or your friends who are trying cases.

But you must learn to be civil to your opponents and to treat the court with honesty and respect.

I learned these things from my mentors and have tried to follow them. However, most of all, have fun. Enjoy what you do and don’t lose your sense of humor. It will serve you well over your career.

And finally, after you have spent as many years at the bar as I have, you can say what I say, “I enjoy being a lawyer” and I am honored to receive The Honorable Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Award.

Thank you.
 

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