My niece, Lodi Seastrom, died from a heroin overdose on May 22, 2007, at the age of 25. I remember taking my two daughters, then 9 and 11, to her memorial service at Bond's Funeral Home. Before that, I had served on the board of Drug Free Marion County for three years. There, I learned how quickly drugs like cocaine, heroin, and Methamphetamine can alter a person’s brain chemistry and cause a physical and mental addiction. I remember warning my daughters that trying drugs even one time can put you in situation where you can no longer control what happens to you and the addiction will spiral out of control.

    As community leaders and policy makers, we should be asking ourselves what do we do with our family members who have made that first mistake of trying a dangerous drug, not knowing how dangerous it is or how quickly they will lose control. Because lives are at stake, we must be careful in our response.

 

    On March 15, 2018, Curtis Hill, the Indiana Attorney General, attended a gathering at a bar in Indianapolis to celebrate the end of the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly. His interactions with four women, including an elected State Representative, resulted in accusations that he inappropriately touched the women.

     The women complained to the leaders of the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate. The investigation there was eventually leaked to the press, and that resulted in the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to determine whether to bring criminal charges against Hill.

     On October 23, 2018, the Special Prosecutor issued his report, and concluded that no criminal charges will be brought. I am writing now to discuss that report, and to highlight how important a prosecutor’s charging decision can be, and how much leeway a prosecutor has to promote or prevent a just outcome. The report can be viewed here.

    Many people have asked me what a judge can do to help solve the opioid crisis facing Brown County. Some are small business owners who can’t find enough reliable employees who are not coming to work high. Others, like me, experienced the loss of a family member. My niece, Lodi Seastrom, died from a heroin overdose in 2007. When the question is “What should we do to solve the problem of drug addiction and overdose in our community?” I answer, “Everything we can.” But the problem and its solutions are not simple.

            I once heard someone tell a parable involving an old master and a young apprentice. The apprentice, frustrated by his inability to learn quickly, asked the master, “How do I stop making mistakes?” The master responded, “With experience.” The apprentice then asked, “How do I get experience?” The master replied, “With mistakes.” I want to talk about why experience is important.

I don’t much like labels. When someone identifies himself as a Republican or a Democrat, each of us has his own idea of what that means. Often, we do not interpret those labels in the best light. I have been a Democrat my whole life. Here’s why.