Dedicated Attorney Serving Muncie, Indiana
John H. Brooke was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, May 17, 1959. He was admitted to bar in 1984 in the state of Indiana, and he was also admitted to practice before U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit; U.S. District Courts, Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana and Western District of Michigan.
- Ball State University (B.S., cum laude, Honors College, 1981)
- Indiana University, Indianapolis (J.D. 1984)
Experience and Associations
- Deputy Prosecutor, Delaware County, Indiana, 1986-89.
- Author: “Policies and Procedures Manual,” Indiana Fireworks Users Association (1994);
- “Indiana Mechanic’s Liens,” Credit Manager’s Survival Kit (1993; 1994)
- Member of Muncie, Indiana State, and American (Sections: General Practice; Intellectual Property) Bar Associations.
About Attorney Brooke
I was born in Terre Haute, IN in 1959 because that was the closest hospital for my parents. The doctor that delivered me was the son of the doctor that delivered my father—that happens in a small town. After my birth, my parents stayed in Casey, IL for a while before moving to Indianapolis, and then Delaware County. I graduated high school from Cowan along with 63 other Blackhawks.
I attended Ball State University and graduated, cum laude, with a BS degree and a double major in Political Science and History. During college I decided that to receive a really well rounded education, I would need to gain experience. The best education/experience I received was to drive a taxi cab during college. I learned a great deal about people, and about how they work and interact with each other. I also had a number of other jobs—security guard, hospital cafeteria worker, washing pots and pans, dispatcher, teaching assistant to the Con Law/American Government professor, and investigator for a law firm. All of these experiences lead me to believe that there is no such thing as a bad experience, just some are better than others.
Time in Law School
I attended law school in Indianapolis full time, but soon found that I needed additional experience than just going to class. I started out as a law clerk for a small public organization and then a bailiff in one of the civil courts and then a law clerk at a large law firm. All while going to law school at night and in the summer. Having experienced the law in a big city, I decided to go back to Muncie where I knew people and could start a general practice.
When I started my practice, it was a general practice, anything that walked through the door, I was willing to learn and handle. I started out doing collections, family law, criminal law and insurance defense. The firm I joined had a vibrant insurance defense practice and very soon I was handling my first civil jury trial in the first year of practicing law. Later that same year came my first criminal jury trial and I was hooked as a litigator. After two years, I decided that I needed more experience so I joined the county prosecutor’s office. I started out handling misdemeanor cases and when I left after 3 years, I was prosecuting murder cases and serious felony cases. I was eager to try anything and everything. In three years, I tried over 30 jury trials. I decided to start my own practice.
Work with Richard Shields
It was while I was starting my private practice, I met Richard Shields at a local watering hole with several other people. I didn’t know Richard at the time, but we had a few acquaintances in common, namely my wife. As we were sitting around eating and talking, I found out from Richard that he was in the fireworks importation, wholesale and retail business. He asked to help him collect several bad checks that customers had given him form the most recent 4th of July season.
Having just started my practice, I jumped at the chance for work (I was willing to do anything for food). Richard gave me a number of checks to collect and I got most of them. He then started asking me questions about issues in the legislature as he was the President of the state fireworks association (back then the membership was Richard’s company and about 4 of his customers.) Richard then invited me to a fireworks convention in Chicago.
Introduction to Fireworks Law
I thought Richard was wanting a friend to visit the nightspots and clubs in Chicago, which was ok with me, Chicago is a great town for this sort of thing. Once in Chicago, Richard introduced me to several fireworks dealers that he worked with and were friends. All of them told me that in the fireworks business, lawyers are used all of the time. The worst thing that all of them told me was that when they hire an attorney, they would spend half of their legal fees on teaching the lawyer about the fireworks business and the other half about the case at hand. I thought to myself that if I went about learning the fireworks business, I could help the industry.
So I started learning the business. I helped unload shipping containers for Richard, worked at the retail stands on the 4th of July, helping to load assortments on the line and then eventually to making my own fireworks and shooting displays. I now serve as a backup pyrotechnician when a client needs someone to help out on a show in the area.
Passionate & Driven
Fireworks are a passion for me. I love watching them, making them and using them in my yard for my neighbors and friends. Over the past 28 years, I have dedicated myself and my practice to helping the fireworks industry as an advocate that understand the needs of the industry and how fireworks really work. I understand the interplay of chemical and thermodynamic reactions in a pyrotechnic devices as well as the inter-workings of the various laws and regulations that govern fireworks.
Brooke Stevens, PC, is the only law firm in the United States that spends so much time and effort representing only the fireworks industry. We have clients in 48 states and 22 foreign countries. We represent manufacturers, importers, dealers, wholesalers, retailers, users, hobbyists and anyone that wants to keep fireworks legal and safe. We have dedicated a significant amount of our time and legal expertise to representing the fireworks industry, only.
Emphasis on Fireworks Law
During the process of creating this unique emphasis, I decided to become and elected official. I ran for and was elected County Commissioner. In Indiana, the Board of Commissioners (3) are the executive of the County. Their position is similar to a mayor of a city, but since there are three of them, they govern more by consensus than a mayor. I served 4 years as County Commissioner, 2 of them as President of the Board. This experience was invaluable to understand the interaction of local politics and issues from constituents. I was able to use my time as an elected official and advise and inform all of my client as to the importance of being involved in government.
This experience also opened up a new area of emphasis for the law firm, that being municipal law. Having been an elected official and sitting in the “hot seat” for 4 years, I can offer a unique and valuable perspective to my municipal clients. My time as a County Commissioner uniquely prepared me for many different situations, both for my municipal client and my non municipal clients.
Taking Pride in Our Work
We have always prided ourselves as being able to seek out solutions within the law and also provide some “outside the box” thinking. For many of our clients, the law does not provide them a complete remedy so they look to us for assistance in crafting some unique and special solutions to their problems. The other valuable feature to our firm is to address a problem quickly. The fireworks business is time critical because the season is so short. The law does not always respond quick enough to keep commerce flowing, so we have to anticipate problems and be prepared to address them.
The same is applied to our municipal and civil clients. Having a broad experience and client base offers the client the chance that we have been involved in a similar matter and “don’t have to reinvent the wheel” each and every time. Whether it is a municipality that wants an ordinance to address dilapidated buildings and structures (a very common problem in lots of towns and cities) to a business client that needs some type of tax relief or employee issue, we have “been there and done that” so that we can face the challenge quickly and completely.
How We Can Help
For our fireworks clients, we offer a “one stop shop” for all sorts of issues and problems. No reason to call around for lawyers experienced in lots of disciplines because we can handle it or can get an answer quickly. We may not know all of the answers immediately, but we know where to look or we have seen this happen in the past and can help with moving the client forward.
As an attorney, I have been practicing law for more than 32 years and some of my very first clients are still clients of the office. We pride ourselves on the client relationship and continuing that relationship in the future. Once we set up an attorney/client relationship we want that to continue for a very long time. We have many, many clients that have been with us for over 10 years. We want to have that relationship with all of our clients.
What made you choose a career in law?
In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
What sets you apart from other attorneys - why is this important?
How does having experience benefit your clients?
What types of cases do you specifically handle?
We are a “one stop shop” for the fireworks industry. If a fireworks company has a problem, then they can come and talk to us whether its a regulatory problem, corporate question, employment problem or tax issue. We can help because we have seen it before.
With our municipal clients we offer vey similar services. We have written over 100 ordinances or handled municipal matters for all sorts of local governmental entities (both elected and appointed). If there is an issue, we have seen it in the past and can handle it.
For our private clients, the broad base of our life and professional experiences can help provide the most complete and comprehensive advice possible.
In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
- Fireworks Law
- State and Federal Litigation
- Insurance Defense
- Governmental Relation
- 95% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- Indiana, 1984
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana
- U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan
- U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- U.S. Tax Court
Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana
- J.D.cum laude- 1984
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
- B.S.cum laude- 1981
- Honors: With Honors
- Major: Political Science and History
- “Policies and Procedures Manual”, Indiana Fireworks Users Association, 1994
- “Indiana Mechanic’s Liens”, Credit Manager’s Survival Kit, 1994
- S.B.D., Inc. v. Sai Mahen, Inc., 560 N.E.2d 86 (Ind.App. 4 Dist. 1990)
- Atkinson v. State, 498 N.E.2d 389 (Ind. 1986)
- Representative Clients
- Cincinnati Insurance Company
- McQuik’s Oilube, Inc.
- North Central Industries, Inc.
- Pyrotechnicians Guild International, Inc. (PGI)
- Western Pyrotechnics Association (WPA)
- Indiana Fireworks Users, Association (IFUA)
- Indiana Fireworks Distributors Association (IFDA)
- North Central Industries, Inc.
- Summit Bank
- American National Bank
Classes & Seminars
- Administrative Law, Muncie Bar Association
- Fireworks Law Update, Indiana Fireworks Dealers Association, 1992 – 2011
Honors & Awards
- Delaware County Good Government Award
- The Muncie Black Expo Trailblazer Award
- Appointed by the Governor of Indiana as a member of the Indiana Political Subdivision Risk Management Commission
Professional Associations & Memberships
- Muncie Bar Association, Member
- Indiana State Bar Association, Member
- American Bar Association, General Practice Section, Member
- American Bar Association, Intellectual Property Section, Member
- American Pyrotechnics Association (APA)
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
- National Council on Fireworks Safety, Member
Past Employment Positions
- Delaware County , Deputy Prosecutor, 1986 – 1990
- Delaware County , Commissioner, 2004 – 2008
- Delaware County, Public Defender, 2009 – 2011
- Delaware County, County Attorney
- Delaware County, County Council Attorney