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IU McKinney dean emeritus taking legal skills to the Olympics

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After receiving the unexpected invitation to help at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Gary Roberts said he did not think about it for more than a second before accepting.

The dean emeritus of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law will be part of the Court of Arbitration for Sport ad hoc Division which will settle all legal disputes that arise during the games.

Roberts will be one of nine arbitrators who are either lawyers, judges or professors with a specialization in sports law and arbitration.

An expert in the field of sports law, Roberts has 30 years of experience in the niche. He is currently a certified commercial and sports arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and is a founding member of the board of directors for the International Association of Sports Professionals and Executives.

“There is nothing I can do to cram for the assignment,” Roberts said. “I will bring all of that knowledge and experience to bear, but there isn’t much I could do now to prepare.”

The panel will primarily handle two types of disputes: those concerning an athlete’s eligibility and those about fairness. Eligibility questions may arise from a positive drug test, challenges to an athlete’s country of residence or accusations about an athlete having an unfair competitive advantage. Fairness disputes can crop up from arguments that the rules were not followed, claims the equipment did not function properly or assertions the referees were biased.

Roberts explained many of the cases that come before CAS Ad Hoc Division are very, very important to people who are involved. The decisions could mean the difference between an athlete who has trained for years not being allowed to compete or not receiving a medal.

The rulings of the council will have consequences and could be controversial, Roberts said.

The Olympic Games will start Feb. 7 and conclude Feb. 23.

During the games, Roberts, along with his colleagues, will be on call. When a legal dispute erupts, he explained, he will have two hours to change into his suit and get to the hearing room.

However, when he is not helping to settle cases, Roberts will be allowed to take in any event he wants.

“I’m always joking I’m getting very excited about the curling,” he quipped.
 



 

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  2. 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!!!

  3. 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.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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