A number of ACLU of Indiana attorneys and supporters attended a reception for Gary Roberts, the new dean of the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon at Baker & Daniels.
The dean, who was also the keynote speaker, mingled with the attorneys before and after discussing a few of his experiences as deputy dean for Tulane University Law School in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and subsequent flooding, pending sports law cases, and how he plans to encourage more diversity at the Indianapolis law school.
While the dean said he didn’t know much about civil liberties law as a sports lawyer, other than a few civil liberties issues that may come up regarding athletes who are suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs in competitions, he did speak at length about the current judicial system, or virtual lack of one, in Louisiana.
He described the literal collapse of civilization in certain areas of New Orleans where martial law was more or less instated; areas that are uninhabited but serve as breeding grounds for crime in the forms of crack houses and chop shops; and how the judicial system including the structures that housed the courts, judges, prosecutors, and public defenders had also contributed to less than adequate handling of both criminal and civil cases.
Roberts added that Tulane’s law school’s criminal law clinic helped where they could, and some attorneys came in from other cities to volunteer their time, but help is still needed even two years later. Students from Indiana law schools and some Indiana attorneys have also given their time to both reconstruction and legal matters along the Gulf Coast since Katrina’s devastation.
The reception also included a few words from ACLU of Indiana Lawyers Council members, especially Carol Seaman of Bloomington, who said they are currently seeking members and looking at other ways to make the organization reach the entire state and appeal to the specific interests of those involved instead of the very broad topic of civil liberties.
ACLU staff members, including Executive Director Claudia Porretti, Legal Director Ken Falk, and disability rights attorney Gavin Rose, also said a few words to those in attendance about the organization’s goals and recent lawsuits.