Court employees to undergo implicit bias training

The Allen County Courthouse
The Allen County Courthouse. Photo taken August 13, 2006.

Allen County Courts news release:

Allen County Courts, FW United to Offer Implicit Bias Training
Training will be part of ongoing effort to better understand and serve the community

(August 28, 2020) – Allen Circuit and Superior Courts and Fort Wayne United will collaborate in August to provide training to help Court employees become more aware of the world around them and more responsive to the needs of the people they serve.

Responding to a recent call by Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush for Indiana Courts to address bias and racial disparity, Circuit and Superior Courts will provide implicit bias training to their employees.

“We have an opportunity during this historic moment in our nation to reset the conversation,” said Judge Charles F. Pratt of the Court’s Family Relations Division. “For too long, citizens have felt unheard when they’ve asked for better from the institutions that serve them. This time, it’s important that we hear them and make meaningful change.”

Implicit bias training is designed to bring about awareness of an individual’s attitudes or stereotypes so that he or she can be aware of how they may influence their perception of others. These predispositions may unconsciously affect a person’s understanding, actions, and decisions.

Training will be offered on Sept. 1, at the Embassy Theater. The initiative will be paid for using grant funds through the Great Kids Make Great Communities program. The program will be supplemented by ongoing, periodic discussions among Court personnel. Two identical sessions will be held, at 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in order to accommodate enough participants while observing social distancing protocols.

The keynote speaker will be Jill English, Director of Interrupting Racism for Children at Child Advocates in Indianapolis. Her program, “Understanding Implicit Bias: A Continuing Journey in the Administration of Justice,” has been approved by the Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education for 3.5 hours of ethics continuing legal education (CLE) credit.

“All facets of the Allen County Courts can benefit from an expanded awareness of the community we live in,” said Judge Andrea R. Trevino, Allen Superior Court Chief Judge. “Allen County’s incredible diversity is what makes it so special. We would all would benefit from a greater understanding of how we treat the people we are called upon to serve.”

The training will be available to Judges, Magistrates and staff from all divisions of the Courts, the Clerk of the Courts, public defenders, Guardians ad Litem, CASA staff, probation officers and others. Approximately 185 people have signed up to attend.

“Allen County has the most innovative and idea-driven judiciary in Indiana,” said Judge Frances C. Gull, Administrative Judge of Superior Court’s Criminal Division. “But as we work to do our jobs better and more effectively, we can’t forgot the reason why we’re here. This opportunity to pause and learn is an important reminder to all of us that the people we serve come first in everything we do.”

Added Judge Craig J. Bobay, Administrative Judge of Superior Court’s Civil Division: “Courts are, first and foremost, about serving people and delivering justice fairly. To fulfill that duty, the Allen County Courts must continuously strive for excellence. Asking hard questions about how we interact with the public will pay great dividends and make the Courts even better able to serve everyone.”

The idea for implicit bias training for Court personnel emerged from the Supreme Court’s initiative, bolstered by recent local discussions involving participants in the criminal justice process.

“Courts touch far more than just the people who appear in the courtroom,” said Iric Headley, Director of Fort Wayne United. “Their work can impact families, children, workplaces and many other aspects of society. It’s a worthy investment in our community to make sure the men and women who work for the Courts have a better understanding of their fellow citizens.”

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