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Courthouse artwork on display at ISBA

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The Indiana State Bar Association's courthouse art project is now on display for the public at the ISBA's offices in downtown Indianapolis. As of March 24, the collection included a total of 27 original paintings, charcoal drawings, ink drawings, and other artistic interpretations of historic and modern courthouses around Indiana.

In what started as an idea of then-ISBA president Douglas Church, which he kicked off with a donation from the Hamilton County Bar Association, the project continues to grow as a handful of artworks were donated in March. More are on the way, and "somewhere between six and 10 counties" have expressed an interest in donating to the project, Church said.

Church added that his last act as president of the ISBA when he stepped down in late 2009 was to name himself the "unofficial permanent chairman of the courthouse art committee."

He quickly credited the committee's actual co-chairs Julia Kozicki and Jane Merrill for their work on the project.

Church, along with Kozicki, Merrill, and others at the ISBA, have a goal to have artwork from about half of Indiana's counties by the end of the year.

To reach that goal, Church said committee members have been contacting attorneys in counties that aren't yet represented by the project.

"Part of the intent of our effort initially was to reach out to local bar associations and provide assistance and resources for things they couldn't do on their own," he said. "For example, the ISBA hosts local bar association's Web sites free of charge and makes sure the content is kept up to date."

Church and Kozicki said they've been impressed with how the counties have collected artwork for the project. Some have held contests where the first place winner's artwork is given to the ISBA and runners up have had their art displayed at the respective county's courthouse. Others have had contests for prize money or received donations from area judges, lawyers, or county bar associations who already had original artwork of their county's courthouse.

Each donation also has a story, Church and Kozicki said. In one county that held a contest, the winner was a high school student. In another county the winner was someone Church said was "unfortunately familiar with the court system."

To get the word out, the ISBA has published a brochure of the art they've received so far - along with a list of counties who haven't yet donated - to distribute at various events. That brochure, which includes information about the artists and donors, will be updated periodically.

Church said he hoped to have all of the art available for viewing at an upcoming statewide event, but those plans were still being finalized at Indiana Lawyer deadline. Until then, there are two ways to see the courthouse art: visit the ISBA offices, which some attorneys and artists have been doing; or visit the ISBA's Facebook page, which is available even to those not on Facebook. The Facebook site also has photos from various donation ceremonies.

The Facebook page includes artwork from Bartholomew, Benton, Daviess, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Fulton, Fountain, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Jasper, Knox, Lake, Madison, Miami, Morgan, Posey, Sullivan, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Wabash, Washington, and Wells county bar associations, lawyers, and others. Other artworks that have been donated but not yet officially handed over to the ISBA, including one from St. Joseph County, will be added to the site as they are available.

"I'm delighted we're over 25 percent of the way through the counties," Kozicki said. "The art is just lovely. I've enjoyed seeing it come in. We're always happy to learn about new counties."

For anyone who'd like to help their county contribute, Kozicki suggested they first touch base with county bar association leaders, and then call the ISBA or Kozicki, who said she was listed in the ISBA directory. "We'd be happy to help them get started."

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

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  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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