Allen County offers court staff implicit bias training

Allen Circuit and Superior Courts and Fort Wayne United will collaborate in implicit bias training for court staff at a session Tuesday at the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne.

Allen Superior Court Executive John McGauley said in a press release Friday the training is in response to a recent call by Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush for Indiana courts to address bias and racial disparity.

“We have an opportunity during this historic moment in our nation to reset the conversation,” said Judge Charles F. Pratt of the Superior Court’s Family Relations Division. “For too long, citizens have felt unheard when they’ve asked for better from the institutions that serve them. This time, it’s important that we hear them and make meaningful change.”

Implicit bias training is designed to raise awareness of an individual’s attitudes or stereotypes so that he or she can be aware of how they may influence their perception of others, the release says. These predispositions may unconsciously affect a person’s understanding, actions and decisions.

The keynote speaker for the morning and afternoon training sessions will be Jill English, director of Interrupting Racism for Children at Child Advocates in Indianapolis. Her program, “Understanding Implicit Bias: A Continuing Journey in the Administration of Justice,” has been approved by the Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education for 3.5 hours of ethics continuing legal education credit.

“All facets of the Allen County Courts can benefit from an expanded awareness of the community we live in,” said Judge Andrea R. Trevino, Allen Superior Court chief judge. “Allen County’s incredible diversity is what makes it so special. We would all would benefit from a greater understanding of how we treat the people we are called upon to serve.

The training will be available to judges, magistrates and staff from all court divisions, including the clerk, public defenders, guardians ad Litem, CASA staff, probation officers and others. Approximately 185 people have signed up.

“Allen County has the most innovative and idea-driven judiciary in Indiana,” said Judge Frances C. Gull, administrative judge of the Superior Court’s Criminal Division. “But as we work to do our jobs better and more effectively, we can’t forget the reason why we’re here. This opportunity to pause and learn is an important reminder to all of us that the people we serve come first in everything we do.”

The statement said the training is part of ongoing periodic discussions among court personnel.

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