Compiled by the Office of Communication, Education & Outreach
On June 5, 2020, Chief Justice Rush released the statement on race and equity, charging the judiciary to take action in providing equitable justice to our communities. The statement implores judicial officers to acknowledge and confront the reality that justice remains elusive for many persons of color. Chief Justice Rush emphasized five points that judicial officers should focus on to confront racial discrimination:
- Increased implicit bias training
- Compassion for vulnerable and disadvantaged persons
- Improving the pathway for more people of color to become judges and lawyers
- Equitable treatment of children across the court system
Following the statement, several organizations across the spectrum of justice have demonstrated their support, both statewide and nationally.
- On June 8, 2020, Vice-President of the National Bar Association, Nathaniel Lee, expressed his gratitude to Chief Justice Rush for her leadership and commitment to equitable justice.
- On June 16, 2020, the New York Times acknowledged Chief Justice Rush’s statement in an opinion piece that examines state supreme court judges’ reactions to racial injustice in their respective criminal justice systems.
- On June 26, 2020, the Indiana State Bar Association voiced its support of Chief Justice Rush’s statement and shared its commitments to stand against racism. The ISBA is currently working on an action plan to ensure meaningful impact, and to “create a safe space for its minority members that fosters an environment in which they can thrive and feel supported.”
- In July 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission announced its support, committing “to extinguish[ing] the insidious effects of racism in the legal profession.”
- On July 30, 2020, the National Center for State Courts passed a resolution to broaden efforts to combat racial prejudice in the justice system, along with acknowledging the need to make systemic changes, in the hopes that “justice is not only fair to all but is also recognized by all to be fair.”
The following Indiana counties have also taken initiative to implement race and equity considerations in their communities.
- St. Joseph County courts expressed their pledge to stand with the Chief Justice, commit to doing better, and to improve justice to persons of color. St. Joseph also called upon its stakeholders to make similar commitments in striving for fairness.
- Lake County’s circuit and superior courts adopted Chief Justice Rush’s statement, adding that “abuses of power and of constitutional rights cannot be tolerated, nor can they be condoned by indifference.”
- Madison County courts agree to remain committed to providing equal justice for all, and to end racial disparity in their justice system. Madison County acknowledges that they must do better, stating that “our words risk ringing hollow if they are not coupled with commitments to action.”