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Judge, others honored around Law Day

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The Evansville Bar Association recognized a judge and others in the legal profession during two annual events that take place near Law Day.

The association honored Vanderburgh Superior Judge J. Douglas Knight April 23 with the James Bethel Gresham Award at the annual Law Day dinner hosted by the organization. The past president of the EBA and past co-chair of the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwestern Indiana has served as chief judge of the Vanderburgh Superior Court; supervisor of the Misdemeanor Traffic Court and Small Claims Court; and as court technology supervisor. Prior to becoming a judge in 1987, he worked in private practice and as a deputy prosecutor.

"Judge Knight's guidance, insight, and countless hours of dedicated work serves as an example to all of us of the importance of opening the courts and encouraging attorney pro bono service," said Shawn M. Sullivan, president of the EBA, in a statement.

Judge Knight is a member of the Indiana Supreme Court's Records Management Committee, Task Force on Public Access to Court Records and Privacy, the Protection Order Committee, and the Evansville/ Vanderburgh County Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

On April 21, the EBA and Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwest Indiana recognized attorneys P. Michael Mitchell and R. Scott Wylie; legal secretary Teresa Koch; and paralegal Lauren Hall Jones other attorneys and legal staff.

Mitchell, of Bamberger Foreman Oswald and Hahn, received the EBA and Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwest Indiana's Susan K. Helfrich Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service.

He presented it for "the attorney or law firm whose actions exemplify a true commitment to making justice accessible to all individuals, regardless of economic ability," according to an EBA statement. "Mitchell donated over 50 hours of pro bono service in 2009, often taking cases that he believed the person was being treated unfairly."

Wylie who works for the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwest Indiana, received the Doran Perdue Service Award for his service to the EBA. Wylie helped implement a law clinic for pro se litigants with family law issues. That clinic is considered to be a model for other counties.

Wylie is also an active member of the Boards of Centro Latino for Literacy, the Legal Aid Society of Evansville, Families Thru International Adoption, Lampion Center, Vanderburgh Community Foundation, New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, Hoosier Salon and Gallery, and USI/New Harmony Foundation.

Koch, who works at Bamberger Foreman Oswald and Hahn, received the Florence Britzius Award, which recognizes legal secretaries who have shown outstanding commitment to the profession and the legal community. Koch helped organize, prepare, and revise a number of exams for legal secretaries in Indiana, and encourages others to become certified.

Jones received the EBA Outstanding Paralegal Award, which was established in 2009. Jones is currently a member and holds leadership positions on a number of national and state paralegal associations.

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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.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  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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