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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. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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