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ICLEO initiative gets national attention from rising fellows

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When he was named to the Madison Circuit bench late last year, Judge Rudolph “Rudy” Pyle III made history in that he became not only the county’s first African-American jurist but also the first Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunities graduate to be elevated to the state’s judiciary at that level.
 

ICLEO Judge Rudolph “Rudy” Pyle III (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

That was the second time he marked the pages of Indiana history as it relates to diversity, as he was one of the inaugural ICLEO graduates back in 1997. His rise through the legal community not only reflects his personal success, but also showcases why the Hoosier diversity program is a model for the rest of the country.

“I’m very honored and very humbled to those who’ve had the confidence in me to be successful in this important post,” the 39-year-old judge said. “This is actually a moment that everyone in Madison County can be proud of, because we as a community have come this far. But it says a lot about where our legal community has come.”

 But while his appointment is historic and significant in its own right, Judge Pyle is just one piece of a larger puzzle. On top of his story, the ICLEO program received national attention recently when the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) honored Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard with the annual award known as the A. Leon Higginbotham Award, named after a federal appellate judge and civil rights activist who died in 1998. He got the award during the association’s 42nd annual conference in March, but it was announced in early May just after three of the state’s CLEO fellows from 2007 finished their terms as members of the national NBLSA board.

The now former-chair of the NBLSA board, who just graduated from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and plans to take the bar exam this summer, nominated the chief justice for the award specifically because of the ICLEO program. All of the fellows and those running the ICLEO program say his leadership and passion for diversifying the Hoosier legal community is what has made the program so successful.

“He had the forethought, courage, and understanding of the importance of pursuing this program in the first place,” said Tiffany Munsell, who spent her final year of law school serving as the NBLSA’s national chair. “That’s the main reason why we gave him the award. Very few other states have similar programs because they rely on national, but people in this state are just more committed to its success. That’s tremendous.”

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.

Since the program’s inception, 277 students have graduated and that includes the 24 in the 2010 class, according to program director Robyn Rucker.

With Judge Pyle’s appointment to the bench, Rucker said she is particularly proud of where the program has come since she first got involved and graduated in 1999. The new judge was actually a tutor and mentor of hers, reading essays and giving feedback on how the newer fellows could best prepare for the bar exam. He’s kept up that mentoring by staying involved, she said.

“His appointment is amazing, and he’s an example of how ICLEO helps them gain roots here and stay in Indiana,” she said.

A Rhode Island native, Pyle came to Indiana in 1988 to attend Anderson University and served there as the school’s first black student body president. After graduating in the early ’90s, he became a state trooper for four years before deciding to pursue a law degree. Reflecting on that, the judge recalls that even as early as high school, he’d wanted to be a lawyer and that point in his life was just the right time. Though he wanted a military career and possibly to be an officer in the Army or to go the U.S. Military Academy, his aspirations always came back to being an attorney, he says.

He enrolled at what is now the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, and set the stage for how he’d make history for Indiana’s judiciary. During law school, Pyle remembers being asked to participate in a new program being developed — ICLEO. At the time, it began as a national initiative but ultimately lost its funding and would be carried on by the state. In those days as a student, Pyle like the other inaugural members didn’t know what to expect but took advantage of the program that would aid in their legal career’s success.

Pyle also used his police experience to serve as a legal advisor for the Bloomington Police Department during his law school days, and after graduating in 2000 he clerked for four years for Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Carr Darden. He then went on to become deputy prosecuting attorney in Madison County and handled major felony cases, and opened a private practice where he handled criminal, civil, and corporate cases.

In October, Gov. Mitch Daniels chose Judge Pyle to replace Judge Fredrick R. Spencer, a longtime judge there who resigned while facing a judicial ethics investigation into a lawyer’s claim that he’d decided a murder defendant’s sentence ahead of time. The term expires at the end of 2010, and he’ll face Democratic opponent Kevin M. Eads in the November election.

The chief justice during his annual state of the judiciary speech in January mentioned Judge Pyle, who attended the speech and watched from the balcony. Chief Justice Shepard said that the local jurist joins the ranks of Eduardo Fontanex, a Hammond attorney who served for 10 months in 2003 as the East Chicago City judge and was the state’s first ICLEO graduate to take any bench in the state.

Both are role models for young attorneys and represent what’s possible through ICLEO for anyone interested in a legal career, the chief justice and program graduates said.

Though he shepherded its creation and evolution, 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: aside from Munsell, there was Leah Dupree from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis who served as national chief of staff, and Gary native Melvin Felton II at Columbia Law School who served as national director of communications. Both Munsell and Felton plan to take the bar exam in July, while Dupree plans to take it in February 2011.

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

“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.”

But those running the ICLEO program and utilizing what it offers say the chief justice deserves more credit.

“We have had milestones before, but these back-to-back milestones more recently all stand out to show that the chief justice leads in action, not just in word,” Rucker said. “His commitment hasn’t wavered since the beginning, and this speaks volumes about his continued commitment to diversity. With him leading the way, we’re a beacon for other states to follow.”•
 

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  1. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  2. A high ranking bureaucrat with Ind sup court is heading up an organization celebrating the formal N word!!! She must resign and denounce! http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  3. ND2019, don't try to confuse the Left with facts. Their ideologies trump facts, trump due process, trump court rules, even trump federal statutes. I hold the proof if interested. Facts matter only to those who are not on an agenda-first mission.

  4. OK so I'll make this as short as I can. I got a call that my daughter was smoking in the bathroom only her and one other girl was questioned mind you four others left before them anyways they proceeded to interrogate my daughter about smoking and all this time I nor my parents got a phone call,they proceeded to go through her belongings and also pretty much striped searched my daughter including from what my mother said they looked at her Brest without my consent. I am furious also a couple months ago my son hurt his foot and I was never called and it got worse during the day but the way some of the teachers have been treating my kids they are not comfortable going to them because they feel like they are mean or don't care. This is unacceptable in my mind i should be able to send my kids to school without worry but now I worry how the adults there are treating them. I have a lot more but I wanted to know do I have any attempt at a lawsuit because like I said there is more that's just some of what my kids are going through. Please respond. Sincerely concerned single parent

  5. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

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