Chinn: One of the Best Ways to Celebrate America's Birthday

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iba-chinn-scottThere’s a lot I enjoy about being involved in the IndyBar. I must confess, though, that about the best thing I have been able to do a several times over the past few years is represent the IndyBar at naturalization ceremonies conducted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. A real privilege for me this year was being the IndyBar’s representative at the annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony held on July 3 at the Benjamin Harrison Home.

Yes, it was blisteringly hot that day, even under the tent. But it was worth it, as it always is. With Judge Sarah Evans Barker presiding, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett moved the admission of 98 new citizens hailing from dozens of countries across the globe. Various comments were delivered to mark the occasion, with some of the most interesting coming from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who was himself sworn in as a citizen just a few years ago, and from Yemane Gessesse, a Cummins engineer and member of the class of new citizens. There are a lot of moments during these events that tug at your heart and induce mist in your eyes, like when the eldest new citizen is provided a flag that’s flown over the U.S. Capitol and when the youngest new citizen leads all those assembled in the pledge of allegiance.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, our newest citizens are reminded that they can register to vote on site and are handed a variety of mementos to commemorate the event. In our case, we provide a booklet containing copies of the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. I was able to hand one to each new citizen personally as I got to shake his or her hand and give congratulations.

If you’ve never been to a naturalization ceremony, you should try to remedy that. No matter what time of year the event is conducted, you’ll leave with a heart as warm as a July day.

Here’s an example of the traditional speech IndyBar representatives give at the ceremonies – this one was tailored for the Independence Day event:

As a representative of the Indianapolis Bar Association, I wish to extend my Association’s best wishes and congratulations on this joyous occasion. To welcome you as new Citizens of the United States and the State of Indiana is a unique pleasure. And it is especially exciting to do so at the home of President Benjamin Harrison, who was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

The Indianapolis Bar Association was formed more than 130 years ago for several important reasons. The most prominent were to advance the profession of law, to uphold and defend the constitution, to develop and maintain both integrity and impartiality in the administration of justice and to apply its knowledge and experience in the field of law to the promotion of the public good. Just as the members of the IndyBar have sworn to defend our Constitution, so have you. This is the common thread we share and the duty we both agree to bear.

Respect for the law plays an important role in American society. When we are at our best as Americans, we do three remarkable things because of our respect for the law. We resolve our differences without resort to violence, using our court system when appropriate. We safeguard the legal rights we possess under our constitutions and laws and respect the similar rights of others. And our governments and elected leaders transfer power peacefully when called upon to do so by the people. We demand this respect of ourselves and expect it of our fellow citizens.

To honor this occasion, the Indianapolis Bar will provide each of you with a book with the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Indiana. The rights and freedoms that we enjoy as United States Citizens are precious and unparalleled. Our hope is that this gift will remind you of the blessings of liberty and justice that we enjoy every day in our lives as Americans.

The Indianapolis Bar Association is proud to welcome you as citizens of this wonderful country.

Interested in taking part in this heart-warming volunteer opportunity? Contact Caren Chopp at to volunteer.•


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.