Addressing systemic inequities in the justice system

ISBA taking action on race and equity issues

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Op-ed: 'We must increase the fairness and diversity of our justice system'

"...Roughly 21% of Hoosiers are people of color, yet for the first time in two decades, all our Supreme Court justices are white. Fourteen out of our fifteen appellate judges are white. We have no minority federal judges on the Northern District of Indiana, no minorities on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and just one minority judge on the Southern District of Indiana. Since September 2012, more than a dozen judges have been added to the state’s appellate courts and the federal courts that cover Indiana. Not one has been a person of color..." Read more from ISBA member Nicholas Huang and the Indianapolis Star >>

Articles & Resources

This article repository is compiled by the ISBA Diversity Committee.

Join legal observer & know-your-rights training

One way members of the legal community have a unique opportunity to support peaceful protects is by acting as a legal observer. Legal observers are trained volunteers who support the legal rights of those participating in protests.

"My wife and I took part in the protests last weekend as legal observers and felt like it was a great experience, and we could see the way the protest was able to remain calm with legal observers holding others accountable." -Attorney Oscar Rivas Jr.

The Legal Observer® program is designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police and with the fewest possible consequences from the criminal justice system.

Watch part 1 >>

Watch part 2 >>

Raise your voice with Indy Lawyers for Black Lives

Indy Lawyers for Black Lives hosted a Juneteenth event featuring a variety of speakers from our legal community. The event focused on calls to action, or things members of the legal community can do to address inequities in our justice system. The Indy Lawyers for Black Lives website lists these calls to action, along with a live stream of the event, and additional resources. Learn more >>

Join the legal community in a 21-day racial equity habit-building challenge

Attorneys are invited to join a 21-day quest to explore and deepen their awareness and engagement in issues of racial equity. The challenge began June 17, but the entire curriculum is posted online for you to begin whenever you are ready. Learn more >>

New Barnes & Thornburg podcast: Diversity Matters

Meet host Dawn Rosemond, firm diversity partner at Barnes & Thornburg, as she leads a discussion with partners Alan Mills and Victor Vital about the challenges that the global COVID-19 pandemic brings to diverse practitioners. They discuss how both firms and in-house counsel can counteract these challenges with intentional focus, and how individuals ­can elevate their voices within their own businesses. Listen >>

Vice Dean Bravo to Lead GIPC Working Group on Race and the Legal Process

"IU McKinney Vice Dean Karen E. Bravo has been selected to lead the new Race and the Legal Process Working Group, which was created by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC). The group will work to combat racism and bias in Indianapolis, as well as the disparate impact of pandemic-related events on the Black and other traditionally underrepresented minority communities..." Read more from IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law news >>

Indiana Supreme Court Statement on Race and Equity

"Despite all we have worked to pursue, justice remains elusive to many persons of color in matters across the legal spectrum. There is a disconnect between what we aspire for in our justice system and what we have achieved. That may be hard to hear for all of us who work every day for fairness, but we must hear the voices that cry out in our streets and towns. We must acknowledge and confront the reality that our fellow community members say is their experience. And it is imperative we take action to change that experience—not ignore, justify, or disparage it. So, what can we do?..." Read more >>

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Indiana, Inc. statement

"When there is an imbalance of power, our position as members of the Bar and our understanding of the rule of law makes it even more critical that we stand strong against injustice. We must speak out, demand change, and address deeply rooted racism in our society. We must work to create trust and fairness in our legal system by addressing systemic bias in the law to safeguard civil rights, civil liberties, and justice for all individuals. As a starting point for continued dialogue about the reform needed to end racism in the justice system, we call for the following things..." Read more >>

Statement from Dean-designate Karen E. Bravo, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law

"To those who ask, “What can I do?” I say: Start by making a commitment to positive change through your actions. Inside the law school: Learn about the law, its role and its power. Prepare to become the best legal professional and leader you can be. Lead and participate in meaningful and difficult discussions inside and outside the classroom. Practice ethical and high impact leadership through creating, joining and leading student organizations. Outside the law school: Participate in bar and professional organizations, join community groups, provide pro bono service, use your legal and leadership skills to contribute positively to our future. But let me humbly acknowledge – I do not have the answer because there is no “the answer.” Yet, we have answers..." Read more >>

IndyBar Podcast, "George Floyd: Race, Power & Our Community (with Jimmie McMillian and Michael Tolbert)"

"The death of George Floyd has sparked outrage across the country and brought the many issues surrounding systemic racism to the forefront. Our community is no exception. Difficult conversations are starting to happen, and amid the protests, anger and tears, many have questioned what they can do to help. In this special episode of Off the Record, host James Bell talks with two Indiana bar leaders, Michael Tolbert and Jimmie McMillian, who provide their perspective on the situation." Listen >>

American Bar Association president's call for action

“Americans are rightfully disturbed by looting and violence, but we cannot allow those acts to deter us from our important work to end systemic racism,” Martinez said. “I urge you to stand with the American Bar Association as we intensify our efforts for justice and fairness.” Read more >>