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Civil rights groups form partnership

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Jeff Lorick, executive director of the Terre Haute Human Relations Commission, often receives complaints about unfair housing practices. But until recently, Lorick has had little power to make local landlords comply with fair housing laws.

“We can mediate, but we can’t litigate,” Lorick said. And landlords aren’t always willing to participate in the mediation process.

But now Lorick has some help. The State of Indiana Civil Rights Commission announced on March 21 that it has formed a partnership with the Terre Haute HRC in an effort to bring more services to people in Lorick’s jurisdiction.

Jamal Smith, executive director of the ICRC, said that everyone in the state should have access to the kind of help ICRC provides.

“We feel the best way to do that is to collaborate with folks locally,” Smith said.

The Terre Haute HRC doesn’t receive federal funds and has a limited budget for outreach efforts. But with ICRC’s support, Lorick’s agency will be able to educate more people about discrimination.

“We have a larger staff – attorneys on staff who are versed in the areas of workplace and housing discrimination.” Smith said. “We can provide trainings there locally. We have attorneys on staff that facilitate and coordinate continuing legal education seminars.”

Part of that educational effort will involve reaching out to Terre Haute landlords so that they’re aware of fair housing practices – and the consequences of disregarding them.

Danny Lopez, education director for ICRC, says it has always been ICRC’s responsibility to serve the entire state. But that’s difficult to do without the input of local agencies.

“Way too often … there’s not a lot of communication and collaboration between agencies,” Lopez said. “We’ve been trying to make sure that we address those gaps in a way that makes the most sense.”

Smith said that the ICRC will be canvassing the state in April, which is Fair Housing Month, to get the word out about the benefits of partnering with the state agency.

“Jeff is one of the first of what we hope will be the first of many such partnerships in the state,” Smith said.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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