He has since climbed to the top of that list, earning a reputation that has put him at the center of the highest-profile, highest-stakes Indianapolis divorces of the past 30 years. The wood-paneled walls are dotted with trophy fish one caught by his wife, Jeri and nautical bric-a-brac. Wooden duck-hunting decoys sit on the shelf behind his desk. Wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, a neat white pocket square tucked into his breast pocket, the year-old Buck suits his surroundings. When his clients come here to consult him, he seats them in comfy high-backed chairs.
Of course, beneath the warm-and-fuzzy exterior, Buck is sharp as a thistle. He fights like a wounded bear and smells blood like a shark. In the courtroom, Buck uses the grandpa act when it suits him but is just as likely to trade the tweeds for double-breasted silk suits in gunmetal gray and sharpen the rhetoric to a rapier point. Buck forged his court-tested toughness in his early days of lawyering.
Before , when Indiana overhauled its marital laws, the distribution of marital assets was determined by fault. The basic idea, which guided the law in most states, was that if a marriage went bust, someone was to blame, and it was up to a judge, at trial, to determine guilt in every case. The court eventually punished the party at fault by awarding him or her a smaller slice of the marital pie.
Just bring him in. It was all part of the game. Private investigators, frequently hired to catch cheating partners, presented tawdry descriptions and lurid photographs. As Buck tells it, with Proffitt sitting in the courtroom, the opposing attorney called a private investigator to the stand to testify that Proffitt had committed adultery.
After the P. The P. Members of the family-law bar generally regard the courtroom proceedings of yesteryear as representing the dark ages of divorce, when professionalism took a backseat to theatricality. But Buck remembers the days before no-fault divorce fondly.
We were flamboyant and unrestrained. Anything was fair game. Sure, go ahead and bring in the assistant pro from the golf course, who was doing the wife in the sand traps.
James A. His father, an automotive editor for The Indianapolis Star , had lost everything in the Depression, turned to drink, and eventually moved to St. Buck remembers the divorce as civil and notes that, throughout his childhood, neither parent spoke ill of the other. They set standards I rarely see in divorces today.
A bridge-club maven, she hosted popular card-playing gatherings and taught the game to politicians, judges, and attorneys, whom Buck met along the way.
That early exposure to lawyers notwithstanding, Buck drifted into journalism as a first career choice and in college worked on The Butler Collegian newspaper, which might explain his keen ear for a good story and cozy relationship with the press. Roughly 65 percent of his cases originate in Hamilton County; his practice follows the money. He has represented industrialists, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, pro athletes, judges, doctors, and other lawyers—or their spouses.
In straightforward dissolution proceedings, this can entail little more than coming to the table, often before a mediator, and negotiating a settlement. And Buck, it seems, is never above entertaining the court at his own expense.
John Walls, now known as John Conner ("Conner"), was adopted John Walls) filed for divorce from Sharon Walls in the Superior Court of Henry County. . The Florida court rejected the father's claim, concluding that he was. A law student named John J. Wall penned a "divorce letter" to the U.S. most of the Midwest, Florida, the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
In a hearing for Hilbert v. Proffitt, the opposing counsel in the case, burst out laughing in the courtroom. I have to give him The Look so we can keep some continuity in the work. When one of his clients moved to divorce his second wife, she claimed to be disabled by fibromyalgia, a debilitating nerve condition, and demanded that he support her.
In another fine piece of snooping, Buck instructed his client Donnette Hall, who was divorcing one of the original shareholders of Warsaw, Indiana—based Biomet, to tape-record a phone conversation with her estranged husband, whom she claimed was harassing her.
When he changed the locks on his office door, she broke it down. Call Buck. Do other attorneys frown on that? Several judges have recused themselves from his cases to avoid conflicts of interest after he represented their ex in a divorce.
The first time I saw Buck with a client, he and Duchon were conducting a pretrial meeting with a one-armed woman. There were so many things, so many talents that she had. Rose and her sister Angie Bovi grew up in a family of six children in Frankfurt--a place that Rose wanted to escape, as her kid sister remembers it.
The wife got custody of the children. Jad Greifer. We have two children in elementary school. I am living in Pitt County, North Carolina. Get some counseling to get over your anger because then you can have a better life and be a better dad. Now he sees Fred Keller in what is commonly referred to as a combat stance, holding the firearm in his hands, and he's pointing the firearm right at Rose Marie Keller.
Rose was fleeing their father. Angie Bovi: He was a physically and emotionally abusive to all of us. But I think he had it out for my sister, Rose, mostly. Angie Bovi: She designed clothes, actually for the boutique that my mother and her had in Wiesbaden, Germany. And she also modeled them. Angie Bovi: She was always attracted to older men and I think she was also probably looking for a father figure, because that's what she never had. As one relationship after another sputtered out, someone in the family saw an ad in a Frankfurt paper and immediately thought of Rose.
And so she answered the ad. John Herring was one of the many business associates with whom Fred Keller wheeled and dealed in the booming south Florida real estate market.
John Herring: When you met Fred, you liked him. He was a charming person to get you into what you needed. Fred Keller actually had a little bit of Rose in him. Larry Keller: This was the one thing above all others that motivated him in his life, was to escape the working class and make a lot of money. Larry Keller: He wrote in his memoir that his father was a member of the S. And when he was about three or four, the family moved back to Germany and he was there for part of World War II. The Bohlanders returned to the U. He started his career as an engineer in Virginia, along the way changing his name to Keller.
It was just one of the ways he would reinvent himself.
As a youngish man with money on the mind, the potential of south Florida drew him down to Palm Beach. At first he was an outsider with his nose pressed against the window, but real estate savvy--cutting down and dirty deals--was his ticket to the waterfront life. Larry Keller: He made his money not building beautiful hotels, like Donald Trump, and resorts and golf courses, but commercial real estate.
Strip centers, warehouses, that sort of thing. Nothing glamorous at all about it, but very profitable. At that time, we're talking tens of millions. Still, he wasn't one for the exclusive clubs, or charity balls that can define the Palm Beach pecking order for those keeping score. Laurence Leamer, writer: Fred was too cheap to join one of the clubs to play tennis. Leamer was writing a book about Palm Beach, and in some audio tapes he made, Fred Keller explained why he kept the social glitz at barge-pole distance.
Not surprisingly, as Keller accumulated his fortune, he also accumulated quite a few girlfriends. And along the way, a few children and four ex-wives, each recruited in the classifieds. Laurence Leamer: All his relationships, he put an ad.
And it didn't embarrass him to say, "I'm a millionaire," and why would people respond to the ad? Because it's a millionaire. Angie Bovi: They started writing to each other. They started talking' on the phone. And-- then eventually, he asked if she wanted to come visit, to meet.
And I think she was supposed to be here for two weeks. And-- she never came back to Germany. Dennis Murphy: It was, "I need your youth and beauty, and I need your green cardness, your wealth.. Still, on those audio tapes you can hear Keller saying it was champagne and fireworks from the moment he saw Rose step off the plane. Angie Bovi: She loved him, she wanted to, be happily married. And have a you know, a happy and secure family life. It appeared that the high school drop-out had hit the immigrant's jackpot: Marriage to a mogul and a big house on the desirable intracoastal waterway, but the reality wasn't all that gemutlicheit.
Take the mansion.
It was a dump. Angie Bovi: There were holes in the ceiling. It certainly wasn't what people would imagine a mansion would look like. Angie Bovi: She drove a year-old minivan, you know?