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Court of Appeals of Indiana receives national civics education honor
Williamsburg, Va. (May 8, 2023) – Schools, retirement homes and conference centers have become pop-up courtrooms for the Court of Appeals of Indiana, the recipient of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) 2023 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.
For decades, Indiana’s Appeals on Wheels program has conducted traveling oral arguments as part of a transformative educational experience that brings civics education to life.
“The incredible feat of reaching all 92 Indiana counties is about much more than holding an oral argument,” wrote Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush in her nomination letter. “The Appeals on Wheels program provides in-person civics education to the tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of Hoosiers in attendance at each event. It provides our citizens with a unique, first-row seat at how the judiciary resolves real-world disputes based on the rule of law. And it allows Hoosiers of all ages an opportunity to meet with leaders of their judicial branch.”
Named after retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the award honors an organization, court, program, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. The award will be presented to the Court of Appeals of Indiana this summer during the annual conference of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.
“It is refreshing to see an entire court so committed to advancing civics education for as many years as the Court of Appeals of Indiana,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “Their program is an excellent example of meeting people where they’re at to increase public understanding of the justice system.”
The Court of Appeals of Indiana includes 15 judges who represent five Appeals Court districts. The court has held more than 650 traveling oral arguments since 2000, including 20 sessions in early 2023.
“We are deeply honored and grateful that this long-standing practice of the Court is being recognized on a national level,” said Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert R. Altice, Jr. “Here in Indiana, we know that an educated, civically minded public is fundamental to good government and just results. We look forward to continuing to expand the Court’s outreach and providing experiential, inquiry-based learning opportunities to Hoosiers, who deserve to see their judiciary working for them.”