By Mitchell Osterday, Indiana Supreme Court
Opinions in this piece are those of the author.
It has taken me quite some time to sit down and write this blog post. I say that not to highlight my personal struggles, but to take pause and recognize the great weight that words have in a time of mourning, anger and division.
As attorneys, we have a particular responsibility to our community and to our clients, and for those of us in government practice, that duty is necessarily amplified. We have each taken an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana,” to “maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers” and to “never reject, from any consideration personal to [ourselves], the cause of the defenseless, the oppressed or those who cannot afford adequate legal assistance…” (Indiana Rule for Admission 22.)
To me, our commitment to the rule of law goes to the very core of our charge as attorneys in government practice. While a strict “rule of law” approach may seem mechanical at times, I believe this charge also reflects why many of us became attorneys in the first place: to fight for justice, protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to stand up for the oppressed.
Admittedly, fighting for a particular cause can be a difficult task depending on what station of life you are in at the present time. After all, elected officials owe duties to their constituents, judges must faithfully apply the law to the facts presented, lobbyists must advocate on behalf of their clients, and many government attorneys must counsel their agencies on any and all options available in a particular situation. I was encouraged, however, by a recent statement from Chief Justice Loretta Rush on the topic of race and equity. The full letter can be found here and I would urge you to read and reflect on the statements our Chief Justice makes throughout. There are many ways each of us can improve the current state of affairs in our own circles of influence and, in my opinion, that starts with a moment of personal reflection and education.
The IndyBar has also issued a statement on this important issue. In addition, the current IndyBar President and the President-Elect have penned thoughtful opinion pieces. As we all continue to read, learn, and grow, my hope is that we can have open and honest conversations about the current state of justice in our city and in our state.
We have an amazing profession where we are charged with seeking fairness and justice under the law. Many of us are having tough conversations right now. As I interact with other members of the government practice section, I have faith that progress is being made and our commitment to justice remains in sharp focus.
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