ILNews

Lucas: Make this the year to support civic education

Kelly Lucas
September 12, 2012
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EidtPerspLucas-sigI knew that if I kept the faith, sooner or later it had to happen. Several days into my youngest son’s senior year of high school, God threw me a bone.

My son came home from school and told me that he planned to try out for his high school’s Model U.N. team. Now, this may not seem a big deal to you. But for this journalist who began her career working in the state Legislature and has always struggled to get the math and science aficionados that I live with to appreciate how intriguing government can be, it was a milestone moment.

So how did this happen – this kid who calls AP Calculus “easy” but considers reading a novel “a lot of work” decides that he wants to engage in government and take it on as an extra-curricular activity, no less? Someone inspired him.

There is no shortage of programs in our schools to engage and interest students in government and the law. Dedicated teachers and volunteers, many from the legal community, have given countless hours and personal resources to support programs that move students from a level of complacency of merely “showing up” to a level of intrigue that motivates them to “stand up.” But in a state that ranks 48th in the nation in voter turnout with only 39.4 percent of us bothering to cast a ballot, we must do more.

Indiana lawyers will have a unique opportunity to participate in a civic education program that will cast a national spotlight on our state and legal community. The 2013 National High School Mock Trial Championship will be held in Indianapolis May 9 to 11. Teams of high school students from almost every state, and some from outside the United States, will travel to Indianapolis to compete in this event that can make even the most experienced trial lawyer do a double-take to confirm that these are, in fact, high school students arguing matters of law.

Nearly 400 lawyer and non-lawyer volunteers are needed to serve as judges and timekeepers; assist out-of-town visitors at social events, hotels and courtroom sites; and serve in other volunteer capacities associated with this competition. If you are looking for more than a one-time volunteer opportunity, consider coaching an Indiana high school mock trial team that will compete for the opportunity to attend the national championship.

While hosting hundreds of the brightest high schoolers in the country in Indianapolis is exciting, it is not cheap. The committee is depending on the generosity of the legal community to provide resources to make the 2013 NHSMTC one to remember.

Information about Indiana Mock Trial and the national championship, along with volunteer opportunities and forms, can be obtained at www.inmocktrial.org. Donations may be made at www.inbf.org/giving_to_the_foundation. Be sure to note that your gift is for the Indiana High School Mock Trial Program. Questions may be directed to NHSMTC host committee chair Ann Marie Waldron at awaldron@rwylaw.com.

September is a month of new beginnings. For students, it represents a new school year – a clean slate – and anything is possible. For members of the legal community, it can be the time to consider volunteering and making a difference, perhaps becoming an inspiration to a kid. On behalf of parents everywhere whose child will discover a new area of interest this school year, I thank you.•

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

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