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Indiana's chief justice receives award for diversity efforts

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The National Black Law Students Association has honored Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard for his trailblazing work in diversifying the legal community, largely with the creation of the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity.

Chief Justice Shepard received the annual award known as the A. Leon Higginbotham Award, named after a federal appellate judge and civil rights activist who died in 1998. Chief Justice Shepard was given the honor during the association’s 42nd annual conference in March.

The Indiana Supreme Court announced the honor this week, just after three of the state’s CLEO fellows from 2007 finished their terms May 1 as members of the national NBLSA board.

Taking a modest tone about the award named after a man he knew and admired, Chief Justice Shepard described the late Judge Higginbotham as the true trailblazer deserving recognition while also commending those who’ve gone through the state’s CLEO program.

Formed by the General Assembly in 1997 at the chief justice’s urging, ICLEO is designed to assist minority, low income, or educationally disadvantaged college graduates in pursuing a law degree. Each year, 30 college graduates get into the program. Students who successfully graduate may be eligible for an annual stipend, which can be awarded for up to three successive academic years if the student remains eligible. The annual stipend is currently $6,500 for public law schools and $9,000 for any private law school in Indiana.

Chief Justice Shepard points to the leadership of the three ICLEO fellows on the national NBLSA governing board as evidence of the program’s success: Tiffany Munsell, a 3L at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, served as national chair and she plans to take the bar exam in July; Leah Dupree, a 3L at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, served as national chief of staff and she plans to take the bar exam in February 2011; Melvin Felton II, a 3L from Gary studying at Columbia Law School, served as national director of communications and he also plans to take the bar exam this July.

“It was heartwarming to see the NBLSA leadership in the hands of former CLEO students,” the chief justice said. “Indiana decided these young adults had great gifts to offer our state if given the opportunity. They have gone a step further by making a contribution to a great national organization.”
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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