A Long-Overdue Victory Celebration in Charlestown, Indiana!

Jeff Rowes
Jeff Rowes  ·  October 1, 2022

Every case has its defining moments. An epic launch covered by national media. Finding a rare smoking gun among thousands of documents. A heartbreaking setback you vow to reverse on appeal. Answering a key question at oral argument that sways the court to your side. And then there’s the sweetest of all: The victory party with your clients. 

In June, we had our too-long-delayed victory party in Charlestown, Indiana. You may remember our five-year fight to save dozens of client homes from the developer’s bulldozer after the mayor promised to use eminent domain to demolish a historic WWII-era neighborhood. Our clients—the most we’ve ever represented in one case—were low-income folks, many of them senior citizens on a fixed income. We pulled out all the stops: filing a lawsuit, running commercials on local TV, protesting the developer at the stadium where his pro soccer team plays, and even intervening in a separate federal case in which the town’s insurer was suing the town so it didn’t have to pay for the illegal shenanigans we’d uncovered. 

The case ended in late 2019, but our original victory party was canceled because of the pandemic. But it was worth the wait when, in June, we finally gathered at the American Legion hall to enjoy a hearty dinner of Chick-fil-A and potluck dishes. It was wonderful to experience the joy and gratitude of so many people who’d become more than clients—they are our friends for life. We reminisced, joking about kids now in college who were in elementary school when IJ first came to town in 2014. We also remembered those who passed away during the fight, taking some comfort in knowing that they were where they belonged until the end: in the homes they loved. 

Perhaps the most poignant moment was heading to David and Ellen Keith’s home after the party. In our case launch video, Ellen said, “We’re going to be on this hill when this battle is over, in this yard.” There is nothing quite so satisfying as a cold beer on a hot summer night, standing on top of the hill in your clients’ yard, victorious, after the battle is over.

 Jeff Rowes is an IJ senior attorney.

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