By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul
Director of Research and Publications, Indiana Public Defender Council
He is a graduate of Indiana University and the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He was a private practice attorney in Elkhart and Indianapolis prior to joining the Indiana Public Defender Council (IPDC) in 1994. He is Jack Kenney, and he has been served with interrogatories.
You have spent a significant portion of your professional life writing and researching the Indiana criminal code. What was your first reaction when you heard it was being revised?
Surprise, given the fact that the prosecutors killed the original criminal code reform bill in 2011 (SB 561). At the same time I felt a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of starting over and dealing with the amount of new information to learn and convey to others. I was also hopeful Indiana seemed to be moving toward more proportionality among crimes and sentences across the criminal code, focusing more on rehabilitation, treatment and being smart rather than indiscriminately tough on crime and building more prisons. I knew our agency could help make a difference in achieving those goals.
What issues with the new code are you eager to see litigated?
The retroactivity of the amended sentence modification statute and appellate review of significant disparate sentences for the same behavior under the old code. There will also be issues that come up when the new traffic code takes effect next year. For example, whether judges will exercise discretion to issue specialized driver’s licenses rather than suspending licenses.
What is your approach to handling major writing projects?
Develop a long-term plan and try to make it an ongoing process. Block out significant chunks of time, and seek out second opinions and proofreading wherever possible. When all else fails, push it off to co-workers, independent contractors and/or law students.
What do you do when you aren’t working on publications?
Talking to lawyers from around the state about their cases. Responding to requests for assistance.
What are the three most essential reference books on your shelf?
IPDC manuals–especially evidence, search and seizure, and sentencing. Also Indiana Criminal and Traffic Law Manual.
What is your favorite part about working for IPDC?
The relationships I have developed over 20 years with the IPDC staff, board members and public defenders throughout Indiana. Learning and sharing developments in criminal law and collaborating with others about raising and arguing various issues. And to be honest, celebrating Columbus Day with a day off work is pretty nice.
Do you feel any rivalry with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC)?
No, I do not deal with IPAC very often. Many times we are on the same page, along with the Judicial Center, in promoting a more effective and reliable criminal justice system. We’ve had disagreements on legislative issues and criminal justice policy, but I don’t feel that it is a rivalry.
If you had to have another job, what would it be?
Practicing law with my wife, Stacy Uliana, who has a criminal defense practice. If you’re asking what my dream job would be, I’d like to retire after my kids grow up and work as a bartender in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Westlaw or Lexis?
I like Westlaw, but our office and most of IPDC members use Lexis. The Shepard’s function from Lexis is helpful, but frustratingly inaccurate at times.•