IndyBar: Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt to Receive IndyBar’s Highest Honor at the Bench Bar Conference


A selection committee acting on behalf of the Indianapolis Bar Association and the Foundation has announced the selection of Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana as a recipient of the IndyBar’s prestigious Luminary Award of Excellence. Chief Judge Pratt will be honored at the 2021 IndyBar Bench Bar Conference in Louisville, Kentucky on June 19.

Formerly known as the Buchanan Award of Excellence, in bestowing its most prestigious award on Chief Judge Walton Pratt, the Indianapolis Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Foundation are recognizing her leadership in the legal community and the community at large and her ability to inspire and positively impact others, bringing honor to the legal profession.

2021 is the first year the IndyBar is presenting the Luminary Award, but the selection committee has drawn inspiration from the former Buchanan Award of Excellence. First presented in 1990, the award was named for former Indianapolis Bar Association and Bar Foundation President Judge Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. The award shall be given both to reward accomplishments and inspire others to service.

Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt was appointed judge of the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in 2010 as the first African-American federal judge in Indiana history. She became Chief Judge in March 2021. Previously, she served as a judge in the Marion Superior Court, Probate Division and as Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division. Prior to her election as judge, Judge Pratt was in private practice, was a public defender and served as master commissioner in Marion Superior Court. She has also served as a vice president on the IndyBar Board of Directors, as well as chairing numerous IndyBar committees.

Members of the selection committee as well as colleagues and friends had many gracious things to say about Chief Judge Pratt and how she’s most deserving of this prestigious honor.

“Chief Judge Pratt has been a mentor, leader and shining light for generations of attorneys. Her unquestioned superior knowledge of the law and years of experience as a judge combined with her eternally bright personality and encouraging temperament has been an absolute inspiration for lawyers like myself. As the first African-American judge to be appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, she is our hero and we are very proud to follow in the firm path that she has charted for future law students and lawyers. She certainly deserves the Luminary Award, the highest honor of the Indianapolis Bar Association,” remarked 2021 IndyBar President, Jimmie McMillian.

Former Indianapolis Bar Foundation President Lee Christie said, “Chief Judge Pratt exemplifies the qualities and leadership that we admire and need in our judiciary. She is an inspiration to so many in our community with her creative thinking and diverse background.”

“In rare cases, a person’s example and legacy shine beyond prestigious accomplishments. Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt is that person. Undeniably a legal luminary, but vastly more as well,” says former Marion County Bar Association President Julian Harrell.

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