For their joint efforts in serving the rule of law in Indiana and helping judicial families across the country, retired Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson and his wife Jan were honored by the Saint Thomas More Society of Central Indiana with the Couple of All Seasons Award.
The award was presented as part of the society’s Red Mass celebration Tuesday at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis. Brent Dickson served for more than 30 years on the Indiana Supreme Court, the second-longest individual to sit on the high court in the state’s history, and Jan Dickson, seeing how judges’ families members were impacted by the demands of the bench, started the Judicial Family Institute to provide resources and support to spouses and children of judges.
“I thank you all for loving us, for loving your neighbor,” Jan Dickson said accepting the award. “Please know that we love you.”
Archbishop Charles Thompson presided over the mass that was held at the cathedral for the first time. Afterward, the guests enjoyed a dinner and the presentation of the award.
Retired Justice Frank Sullivan said giving the award to the Dicksons was an “inspired decision.” He sat next to Brent Dickson on the Indiana Supreme Court for nearly 19 years and said he could not have asked for a more collegial seatmate and giving colleague. Also, he noted, he watched in awe as Jan Dickson gave freely and fully of herself to judges and their families.
Andrea Townsend, associate at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun, got to see husband and wife in action. Following graduation from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Townsend clerked for Dickson and remembered the justice often sitting in his chambers, writing an opinion, while his wife was nearby working on one of her initiatives.
Speaking to the guests, Dickson drew attention to the two greatest commandments – loving God with all your heart, mind and soul and loving your neighbor as yourself. He said he sees the first commandment woven into Indiana’s constitution with its robust protections for religious liberty. Also, he views the commandment to love one another as the underpinning of civility.
“Civility seems to be at the heart of being a Christian judge and lawyer,” Dickson said. “Seeing and treating with respect our colleagues, our clients and even our adversaries is a natural outgrowth of loving our neighbors as ourselves.”