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Blomquist: Inspiring the Next Generation in the Shadow of Greatness

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blomquist-kerrySenator Richard Lugar. Judy O’Bannon. Congressman Andy Jacobs. Judge Cynthia Ayers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Eugene B. Glick, Sidney Eskenazi…

What do all of these people have in common?

They are all alumni of Shortridge Legal Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy. Although it has only been designated such since 2009, clearly these alums show that the school was cranking out leaders well before the actual name change. The story behind Shortridge is fascinating. It is the oldest high school in the State of Indiana dating back to 1861. The school was closed between 1981 and 2007 and was then completely revamped from a middle school to a magnet school for grades six through 12. This past spring, Shortridge graduated its first class since the spring of 1981. Last month was the first Homecoming dance in over 30 years. Apparently, platform shoes never had the chance to go out of style at Shortridge.

The school today is nothing short of inspired. As the Indianapolis Public Schools Magnet School for Law and Public Policy, Shortridge has been designed to be the chosen path for future lawyers, legislators, business leaders and policymakers from Indianapolis. There is a Moot Court Room in the newly renovated building, and students are discovering their inner public speaker as early as grade six. Student “prosecutors” and “defense attorneys” are currently handling juvenile truancy cases for all IPS schools at Shortridge, putting a unique twist on the concept of teen court.

I first began reading about the metamorphosis of Shortridge well over a year ago, coincidentally when I was planning the implementation of the IndyBar Strategic Plan goals for 2013. One such goal was to begin to engage local middle and high school students in the practice of law. Seems the stars were in alignment for the IndyBar-Shortridge collaboration in 2013, and the project needed only dedicated leadership.

Enter United States Bankruptcy Court Clerk and longtime IndyBar volunteer Patricia Marshall. I asked Pat to spearhead this collaboration well over a year ago, and frankly, the woman just took off. With the help of her Public Outreach Committee, Pat facilitated a collaboration that included not one but three chances for IndyBar members to have a direct impact on the students at Shortridge, who will very likely be the future of this legal community.

On May 2nd of this year, Shortridge hosted its inaugural Naturalization Ceremony, which, as you may know is a moving reminder of the unparalleled value of U.S. citizenship. The ceremony was sponsored in part by the IndyBar Public Outreach Committee and graciously orchestrated and presided over by U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and her wonderful staff. For young students of our legal system to be able to see, hear and indeed participate in a ceremony that underlines the value of our democracy is a pretty spectacular thing, and a reminder that what we often take for granted, many, many aspire to.

On June 4th of this year during Law Week, the IndyBar hosted a “Mentoring Day” by allowing Shortridge 8th grade honor students a chance to “shadow” an IndyBar member for part of their day. All transportation challenges aside, it was a great opportunity for these future lawyers to see, and yes I am overstating, just how the magic is done. A sincere thank you goes to the 20 to 25 IndyBar members who stepped up for this and showed their student a good time. Every comment I received was glowing, and nothing beats the life lesson of observation.

Finally, just last month and with the help of Public Outreach Committee members Beth White, Marion County Clerk, and Joan Champagne from White and Champagne, the IndyBar conducted a voter information program geared specifically to Shortridge 8th graders. The committee modified the existing “YVote!” program to help that class learn about the voting process and to facilitate their election of an 8th grade class representative on the Shortridge student council. From “declaring their candidacy” to campaigning and lobbying to the mandating of IDs before they could vote, these kids saw and experienced it all. Not to sounds like an advertisement for Visa, but simply: PRICELESS.

I’ve been parenting for a while now; my oldest just left his teens and I have one still solidly entrenched there. I, like many other contemporary parents, have at times struggled to remain cautiously optimistic about the future of this generation that at times seems to know more about Gandalf’s blood type than our system of checks and balances. But this new collaboration between the IndyBar and Shortridge Magnet School for Law and Public Policy is a bold reminder that as stewards of this profession and indeed this system of justice, we can, should and must take some responsibility in passing on those reigns. Well done, gang.•

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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