Indiana State Bar Association celebrates diversity

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Hundreds of attorneys and judges converged on Indianapolis recently, attending the annual meeting of the Indiana State Bar Association.

The annual conference at the Marriott and Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis offered multiple educational sessions Oct. 13-15, while the ISBA’s House of Delegates heard reports from its various committees and other related legal entities about the progress in the past year. Though no specific new or old business came up for a vote this year, the ISBA welcomed its new president and saw firsthand the culmination of attorney advertising rule revisions its leadership had approved four years ago.

This year’s theme for the meeting was “Diversity in the Legal Profession: The Next Steps,” and most of the committee reports and the conference sessions had diversity themes – such as the immigration and family law seminars, an access to justice session, and appellate practice sessions.

Morgan Indianapolis attorney Roderick Morgan finished his term as the Indiana State Bar Association president Oct. 15, after a year of promoting diversity within the profession. Part of his duties included an awards luncheon where he handed out honors. (Photo submitted)

At the annual presidents’ dinner, Justice Peggy A. Quince of the Florida Supreme Court was the keynote speaker. She served as the state court’s chief justice from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2010, and was a part of the court during the historic presidential election and re-count in 2000 that led to the landmark Bush v. Gore case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Like it or not, this is a diverse country and it’s getting more diverse by the day,” she said, noting that it’s important to keep the topic of diversity in regular conversations. “Diversity gets a lot of lip service, but it’s slow to happen. We all have biases and prejudices, so we must try to make sure they don’t spill over into our judging and lawyering. The only way to ensure that is to stay aware of it and attending trainings to discuss diversity.”

Echoing what Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Rucker discussed at the appellate practice session earlier that day, Justice Quince said it’s important to recognize the key reasons for diversity: democracy, business, leadership, and demographics.

She said it’s important to recognize diversity in all corners of the legal community, from minorities to how non-minorities perceive diversity when it’s practiced. The Florida justice talked about a friend who’s an African-American judge, and had a black bailiff, black prosecutor, and black public defender in the courtroom.

“How do you think a white person in that courtroom might feel when their life, liberty, or property is at stake?” she asked. “That’s not diversity.”

Terre Haute attorney Jeffry A. Lind with firm Fleschner Stark Tanoos & Newlin took over as president from Indianapolis attorney Roderick Morgan, who had just finished his term as the ISBA’s first African-American president. At that same luncheon where he was installed, Lind recognized Indiana Bar Foundation executive director Chuck Dunlap and made a contribution equal to one billable hour for the IBF’s “An Hour for Civics” fundraising campaign.

That donation followed an earlier House of Delegates report from Dunlap about the past year’s financial struggles that have left the IBF in dire straights. He told bar association leaders that the historically low interest rates have hit Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts hard and created problems funding pro bono and related programs statewide.

An annual report submitted at the House of Delegates meeting shows that IOLTA income has gone from $3 million to $1.5 million in recent years, to $670,000 for 2011.

That translates into a drastic reduction in what the state’s Pro Bono Districts can operate on, according to the report. Grants totaled $1.69 million last year and for 2010 they totaled $1.57 million, and the 2011 requests of $1.41 million has been reduced to about $1 million. But only $427,000 is available to distribute from IOLTA revenues, the report shows.

Any shortfall must be addressed by the IOLTA reserve fund of $1.9 million, but the Indiana Supreme Court has set a guideline limiting use of the fund in any given year to 20 percent of the balance. The organization leadership asked Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard for permission to exceed that amount so that 25 percent of the reserve balance could be used, providing about $175,000 in additional funding. The Supreme Court approved that request.

But even with that, more money was needed and that’s when those at the ISBA meeting heard more good news for the Bar Foundation.

Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum president Linda Meier announced at the delegates meeting that the ICLEF governing board had agreed to give $100,000 to the Indiana Bar Foundation. She said the money is unrestricted, meaning it can be used on any of the IBF initiatives such as pro bono or civil education programs and services.

Though the IBF still likely faces a shortfall, it can use carry-over funding from some of the districts to help fill the hole. The IBF expects that it will request reconsideration in July 2011 if interest rates improve, but the IBF does expect some “unavoidable reductions” in personnel because of the economic picture.

The House of Delegates also made mention of revisions to Indiana Professional Conduct Rules approved by the Supreme Court, tweaking the attorney advertising rules for the first time in about a generation. The ISBA leadership had studied that issue in 2006 and sent proposed revisions to the court that year, and Chief Justice Shepard said the court had waited to announce these changes until the annual meeting where it all began.•


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  1. Mr Smith, while most reading these posts are too busy making money or cranking out what passes for justice in our legal-techocrat order,I have often attempted to resist your cynicism, well thought out cynicism I admit. Please know that I give up, I can resist your logic no more. From Locknarian Platonic Guardians, through the incorporation doctine, to substantive due process, to Roe, to the latest demands that all states redefine the foundational stone of all civilized social order, the history of America's fall from Grace is inscribed on the dockets of the judiciary. From the federal judges' apostasy of a kind that would have caused John Jay to recommend capital punishment, to the state judges' refusal to protect the sanctuary of the state constitutions, seeing in them merely a font from which to protect pornographers, those who scream "f*ck the police" and pemubras and emanations following the federal apostates, it has been the judiciary, by and large, that has brought the Experiment in Ordered Liberty to an end. The Founders had great and high hopes that they had designed the third branch to save the Republic from such a time as this ... rather the third branch has allowed itself to be used to drag the Republic into rat infested sewers from which no nation has ever returned. Save me from tomorrow:

  2. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  3. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  4. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  5. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied