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Interrogatories: Candid Q&A with the Hon. Mark Brown

By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul PA

He is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington and the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He was a staff attorney at the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, a chief counsel at the Indiana Attorney General’s office, a chief trial counsel at the Marion County Public Defender Agency, and a private practitioner before taking the bench as a master commissioner in Marion Circuit Court. He is Mark Jones, and he has been served with interrogatories.

What are your most favorite and least favorite aspects of being a trial court judge?

Most favorite is getting to see some incredibly good advocacy by various members of our bar, especially when it is done in the context of—yes, I’ll use the word—“civility.” It’s fun and an honor to be a part of a case in which well-prepared lawyers can “go at it” without getting personal with one another, who can vehemently disagree with each other but at the same time respect the other’s well-thought-out and presented positions. A close second would be the law geek in me getting to drill down into some issue I’ve dealt with either none at all or very little in the past.

My least favorite is, probably, the opposite of the first: hearing a case with a lawyer who hasn’t prepared the case or hasn’t kept up with changes in the law. I understand well that a lawyer is frequently “stuck” with the facts his or her client may have created, but it is very frustrating — and frankly sometimes embarrassing — when there’s an apparent lack of effort to familiarize oneself with one’s own facts or the law, or both (and I’m not talking about the situation where someone is arguing for their reasonable interpretation of the law or for a change in the law).

Your duties include presiding over civil driver’s license litigation and requests for name changes. There seems to be a high rate of pro se representation in those areas. What is most challenging about handling cases with pro se litigants?

I don’t know if it’s the most challenging, but at least one of the biggest challenges is ensuring the pro se litigants’ rights and access to the courts and justice without becoming their advocate. The trial rules and policies of the courts require that litigants file and present their own pleadings, motions and proposed orders, which are sometimes counterbalanced by the system’s needs to move and dispose of cases in order to make room for the next cases for the next litigants to be heard. The pro se litigant’s case frequently takes more time, whether it’s necessary for me to later prepare the final orders or, during a hearing, taking the time to advise the litigant what’s necessary for the case to get to the next step in order for him or her to be heard, without giving him or her legal advice and without me inserting myself as an advocate for one side or the other.

The NCAA made a commercial several years ago that included a robed judge playing basketball. Who would be your number one draft pick from the Marion Superior Court bench?

I have no idea. Maybe Judge Shaheed for his height, Judge Rosenberg for his ability to “box-out.”

What has been the most satisfying moment of your legal career?

Throwing Jim Voyles off track while he was questioning a witness during a deposition by slowly opening a Hershey’s kiss across the table from him. Kidding aside, it’s hard to pinpoint one moment given the fact I’ve been blessed to practice for so long in so many different capacities. Knowing that I’ve given something my best shot, whether it’s as a litigator or a judicial officer and whether I win or lose (or get reversed), I generally feel good about it (I still really liked to win as a litigator …) .

Hypothetically, you’re wrongfully convicted of a crime and you serve 10 years in prison. You are released in downtown Indianapolis at 5:30 p.m. Where are you going for dinner?

Depends upon how much money was in my commissary fund and whether I’d received a settlement yet… Grecian Garden versus St. Elmo’s.

What is your favorite flavor of Sun King?

Osiris Pale Ale, though admittedly I’m not familiar with all that Sun King has to offer.

Are you a Mac or are you a PC?

Mac at home, PC at work.

What book is currently on your night stand?

“Humongous Zits, a Zits Treasury” by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman (a must read by any parent of a teenager or teenagers, especially a son); “A Wanted Man” by Lee Child; and “Flat Belly Diet! For Men,” by Liz Vaccariello and D. Milton Stokes (obviously haven’t opened the last book recently).


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IndyBar President’s Message: Reflecting on a Great Year with Gratitude

 

By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence & 2013 IndyBar President

My last column begins with my favorite quote from E.B. White, which also rests on my signature line as Legal Counsel for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

“I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.”

This quote reminds me daily to focus on the priorities in my life and to be sincerely grateful for the opportunity, because I get to be one of the lucky ones who gets to do this work. With this in mind, I owe a great deal of thanks to those who made this year a successful one for the Indianapolis Bar Association.

Let me be clear: this bar association runs HUNDREDS of programs every year—with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. With that, every year we pull off extraordinary events like the Bench Bar Conference, the Diversity Job Fair, the IndyBar Bar Review Course and the Bar Leader Series. Our sections, divisions and taskforces not only put on hundreds of hours of programming for our members every year, but they engage and give back to the legal and non-legal community because it is in line with our mission and it is the right thing to do. Our pro bono programs have served a record number of people in 2013 in designated programs, in person with Ask a Lawyer and by phone with Legal Line. This year we have matched those seeking lawyers with IndyBar lawyers in our civil and criminal modest means programs, our online IndyLawyerFinder.com, and our Lawyer Referral Service. In 2013, we took CLE online and there are now more than 100 programs available online that you can watch in the comfort of your home or office—and earn CLE while doing it.

The list goes on and on, but it bears repeating that all of this is done with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. That is amazing by anyone’s standards.

A word of thanks to the IndyBar staff: Executive Director Julie Armstrong has likely built the most talented, creative and innovative staff of any bar association in this country. She finds people with raw talent who are, above all energetic and capable and she manages them in such a way as to play to their strengths to gently guide them to where she needs them to be. We are lucky to have her leadership.

From a leadership standpoint, what makes this bar work as well as it does is the perfect storm of how we are alike and how we are different. The things that make us different—our practice areas, our families, our ages, our beliefs, our politics and our way of seeing the world — works for us and not against us BECAUSE we can dialogue, debate and discuss. More than once in 2013 I have taken my view of the world — and accordingly my view on an issue to either the board or the Executive Committee specifically to ask for the contrary, and to listen. The result was unequivocally a more balanced view, which is why the leadership of this bar association works.

The other part of that perfect storm is what we have in common as the leaders of this profession and of this bar. I cannot be more sincere when I say thank you to all of the people that have given their time, their energy, the money and their expertise to help this association fulfill its mission in 2013, which is to serve our members, promote justice and enhance the legal profession.

And finally, a nod to our families: for my children Michael and Eric, my partner John Bennett, my mother, the iconic Ruth Ann Hyatt; and my wonderful friends and colleagues at ICADV. This is my amazing family. IndyBar board member and past president Phil Isenbarger said it best at the 2013 Board Dinner earlier this month when he said we cannot do this work without those important people in our lives. No matter what we do or how busy we may be — we have to be able to recharge in the quiet presence of unconditional and accepting love. To my family: thank you, now and always.

 

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There is a famous quote that says an optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in, while a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. Call me the eternal optimist. 2014 promises great things and the IndyBar staff and Board have an incomparable leader in Jeff Abrams. But just to cover my bases, I’ve given him this golf towel as a token of my admiration. Jeff, not that your clubs ever get dirty, but do me a favor and use the back.

Happy New Year, all!

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Application Process for New Attorney ID Cards Begins Today

It’s renewal time for City-County Building Attorney Identification Cards, and the process has gone online. Starting Dec. 20, attorneys seeking to renew cards or apply for new cards can do so online at https://www.biz.indygov.org/attorneycards/.

The online process will allow attorneys to more conveniently complete the application and provide necessary documentation, including verification of good standing and photo uploading. Upon completion of the online application, cards can be picked up every Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Court Administrator’s Office (Room T-1221, 12th Floor, City-County Building). A government issued photo ID must be provided when picking up the card. Cards issued beginning Jan. 1, 2014, will be valid until Dec. 31, 2015.

The attorney identification cards, which cost $35, are offered as a privilege to members of the Indiana bar as officers of the court. An authorized attorney identification card may be presented to a court security officer at a security screening station, permitting the attorney to enter a secured area without having his or her person or articles automatically subjected to a search. The Court Administrator’s office must be notified immediately if there is a change in status of the attorney applicant, such as resignation, suspension or disbarment from the practice of law, retirement, or if the card is lost or stolen. To view the Attorney ID Card Policy Statement and for more information from the courts, click here.

Questions regarding the online application can be directed to 317-233-2114 or customerservice@logoindiana.com. Contact the Court Administrator’s office (317-327-4747) or the IndyBar (317-269-2000) with questions about the cards or the application process.

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New in the Online CLE Catalog: Ethics and More!

The IndyBar is proud to offer an online CLE option to complement our many live educational programs. Earn up to six hours of CLE credit during each three year period from the comfort of your desk, couch, or anywhere with a WIFI signal! More than 100 programs are currently available in the online catalog, with new programs added weekly. Check out the full catalog here, and see new programs added this week below.

 

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President’s Message: Inspiring the Next Generation in the Shadow of Greatness

By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence & 2013 IndyBar President

Senator Richard Lugar. Judy O’Bannon. Congressman Andy Jacobs. Judge Cynthia Ayers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Eugene B. Glick, Sidney Eskenazi…

What do all of these people have in common? Continue reading

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Interrogatories: Candid Q&A with the Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson

By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul PA

She is a graduate of Butler University and the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She was an associate at Lewis Wagner LLP, counsel to Gov. Evan Bayh, and a Marion Superior Court judge prior to her appointment to the federal bench. She is Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, and she has been served with interrogatories. Continue reading

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I’m an IndyBar Paralegal Member…or I’d Like to Join. Now What Do I Do?

By Julia Kleinschmidt, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

If you are a member already and want to get more out of your membership, or if you are not yet a member (join here!) and wonder why you should be, read on…I hope to inspire you to greater heights, propel you to the top of your profession ,and answer every question you ever had about the Indy Bar Paralegal Committee; and, if I can’t reach those illustrious goals, perhaps I can convince you of the wonderful opportunities that DO exist when you become a member and participate in the activities of the Indy Bar Paralegal Committee. Continue reading

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Local Leaders to be Honored with IndyBar Recognition Awards

These IndyBar members–and their innovative ideas–are just a few of those who will be honored at the Indianapolis Bar Association and Foundation Recognition Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.

Join us for lunch and say thank you for the countless hours the recipients have devoted to various legal programs, causes and issues. The luncheon, to be held at the Hyatt Regency, will begin at noon. Register for the luncheon at indybar.org. Individuals who have been in practice for 50 years, IndyBar Green Legal firms, IBF Distinguished Fellows and the IndyBar 100% Membership Club will also be recognized at the luncheon. Continue reading

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IndyBar Green Legal Initiative Recognizes 27 Firms, Legal Departments for 2013

The IndyBar Go Green Committee, a sub-committee of the Young Lawyers Division, has released its list of Green Legal Initiative firms for 2013. Now in its second year, the program recognizes legal businesses, including law practices, legal departments, courts, agencies, legal support services and other members of the community, that have committed to engaging in environmentally responsible business operations.

Recognized for Outstanding Achievement in 2013 is Drewry Simmons Vornehm LLP, which has not only adopted green practices in its office but has also appointed a Sustainability Coordinator and Sustainability Team to assist in carrying out and evaluating its Sustainability Policy within the firm. Continue reading

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President’s Message: Using Your Powers for Good: Build Your Practice with Pro Bono

By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence & 2013 IndyBar President

October is Pro Bono Awareness Month, so it makes sense for me to focus this column on pro bono work. Before your eyes glaze over and you start looking for pictures of people you know elsewhere in this publication, stick with me for a minute. Sure, there are the obvious warm and fuzzy “volunteer to save the world” arguments for practicing pro bono publico service, and if you know my professional history, you know I believe them all. I think I am as warm and fuzzy and altruistic as I can be while still making my mortgage payments. I believe that doing pro bono work increases your engagement, satisfaction and longevity in this profession and that in turns benefits us in all ways long term. Continue reading

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