In This Issue of Indiana Lawyer

FEB. 17-MARCH 2, 2021

Legislation that would strip away protections for Indiana’s isolated wetlands has drawn opposition from conservationists as well as state environmental regulators. Efforts to remove lawyers from commissions that recommend candidates to serve as trial court judges in Lake and St. Joseph counties are meeting resistance from the local legal communities. And the Taft law firm is expanding its public service and government practice areas, opening an office in Washington, D.C., with the help of new partners who departed Ice Miller.

Top StoriesBack to Top

Legislation takes aim at judicial selection

A bill in the Legislature would restructure the composition of judicial nominating commissions in Lake and St. Joseph counties. Currently, an even number of attorneys and nonattorney members are appointed by local stakeholders, but the proposal would reduce attorney representation, which has prompted a backlash in the northern Indiana legal communities.

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Record-setting fundraiser brings ‘breath of fresh air’

When planning for the 2020 holiday campaign started last February, Indianapolis Legal Aid Society had big ideas to host a kickoff party and enlist volunteers to talk to donors face-to-face with the goal of bringing in record contributions. Then the COVID-19 crisis changed everything. Despite the obstacles, the holiday fundraiser not only collected donations but surpassed the original goal of $225,000.

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Unemployment benefits may extend to workers facing unsafe conditions

As workers faced furloughs and layoffs during COVID-19 pandemic, many relied on unemployment checks for their needed source of income. But some also face a dilemma – choosing between returning to work in potentially unsafe conditions posed by the coronavirus or risk losing their job and going without pay. President Joe Biden in a Jan. 22 executive order requested a solution to that quandary.

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FocusBack to Top

Interrupted coverage: In tangle over insurance terms, businesses’ and nonprofits’ COVID interruption claims being denied

Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began in March 2020, businesses and nonprofits nationwide have had business interruption claims denied. The COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School reported 1,099 federal lawsuits seeking insurance coverage because of the pandemic had been filed as of Jan. 25. To date, courts have granted insurers’ motions to dismiss in 147 cases and insurers motions for summary judgment in seven lawsuits, according to CCLT. Policyholders have scored a few victories with the courts denying the motions to dismiss in 29 lawsuits and granting the plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment in five cases.

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Wagner: Policy endorsements may unlock COVID-19 coverage

When restaurants forced to close due to COVID-19 turned to their insurers to offset their losses because they were unable to use their property as intended, many of us thought the prospects for coverage were good, especially under policies that did not have virus exclusions. But the insurance industry response was fierce.

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Jones: The ‘torrent’ that wasn’t: COVID-19 coverage cases

It’s been a little over a year since I first heard the term “COVID-19.” Back then, like many others, I thought Indiana would see a large number of suits attempting to force insurers to cover the myriad losses that resulted from the pandemic and its associated shutdowns. While there were some significant matters filed last year, to date, no Indiana state or federal case regarding COVID-19 insurance coverage has reached a decision on the merits.

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OpinionBack to Top

Betz: Lawmakers propose ‘radical’ bid to reshape judicial selection

By initiating a constitutional amendment based on misinformation, three Indiana Republican state senators, now joined by multiple others, have proposed a radical resolution to eliminate citizen involvement in the retention vote of appellate judges, changing the current selection process that has been in place for 50 years. This proposal also severely decreases judicial independence and increases the political pressure on our state’s appellate judiciary. Indeed, if successful, the proposal would give the legislative branch far greater control over the Indiana state appellate judges and justices. It would also further embed in Indiana’s Constitution more systemic racism.

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Start Page: Reduce cost of smartphone ownership: Limit interruptions

Over the next few articles, I will share some thoughts on setting your devices up for a “palm practice” (practicing law from the palm of your hand). Most lawyers now have smartphones or devices with us every day. But, with great power comes great responsibility. While these tools are helpful, they can also increase the sense that we should always be working on something.

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Bar AssociationsBack to Top

IndyBar: The Indiana Legislature is Now in Session

I am extremely proud to inform you that your Indianapolis Bar Association leadership is diligently engaged in the task of carefully evaluating proposed bills and making the thoughtful determination regarding whether to take action to support, oppose or suggest amendments. It has been absolutely inspiring to watch our IndyBar section leadership wholeheartedly embrace this daunting task on behalf of our members and our clients.

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IndyBar: The Courage to Send an Email

If you haven’t heard of Brene Brown, you should look up her documentary “Brene Brown: The Call to Courage” for some laughs and solid advice about how to grow into a better version of ourselves by embracing vulnerability.

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DTCI: For better or worse, Zoom has changed the practice of law

For lawyers, COVID has forced us out of courtrooms, mediations, conferences and client visits. Videoconferencing software, usually Zoom, has stepped in to fill the void. Zoom is an imperfect substitute with plenty of drawbacks. However, after nearly a year litigating cases via Zoom, it has become an ingrained part of the practice of law. Even after COVID, Zoom is likely here to stay.

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