A veteran Marion Superior trial court judge and a longtime attorney whose death this year saddened the Indianapolis legal community were honored Wednesday by the Indianapolis Bar Association.
Marion Superior Judge Gerald Zore was presented with the Silver Gavel award for judicial and professional accomplishments during 39 years on the bench. C. Joseph Russell, a Krieg DeVault LLP partner who died in July, was posthumously awarded the IndyBar’s Professionalism Award.
“We were privileged to have Joe as our colleague until his untimely passing,” fellow Krieg DeVault partner Debra Daniels said of Russell in presenting the honor to his widow, Betsy Russell, also a Krieg DeVault partner.
Betsy Russell said she imagined her husband looking down approvingly on the bar’s annual Professionalism Luncheon. “Knowing my husband, he is also really liking this,” Betsy Russell said of the honor.
C. Joseph Russell was a past IndyBar president and was active in numerous professional and community associations.
Zore accepted his award with modest words of thanks, but Marion Superior Magistrate Victoria Ransberger noted Zore, who currently presides in probate court, was the longest-serving active trial court judge in Indiana. James Voyles of Voyles Zahn & Paul called Zore “a fabulous judge … and I’m proud to call him my friend.”
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush delivered the keynote speech at which she praised the IndyBar’s leadership and outreach initiatives that she said are exemplary to other bar associations around the state.
Rush drew on her experience going through the selection process before her appointment to the Supreme Court in stressing the importance of civility and professionalism.
Rush said her mother’s advice in dealing with difficult personalities – “a little sugar goes a long way” – turned out to be good instruction when those vetting her for the high court contacted a wide range of lawyers who came before her as a judge or who she opposed before that as an trial attorney.
“No matter how tough your cases, don’t get personal,” she counseled.
But seeing an increasing number of disciplinary complaints lodged against attorneys – up about 15 percent last year compared with the year before – is concerning, she said. “Obviously there are problems with civility and professionalism.”
Rush offered three tips for professional improvement: live a balanced life, find some mentors, and zealously protect your reputation.