« Ind. Courts - Imprisoned William Conour seeks reimbursement from restitution fund | Main | Ind. Decisions - Upcoming oral arguments this week and next »

Friday, May 30, 2014

Courts - "From 'scraggly' kid to Federal judge, Muncie native recalls his journey"

Updating this Jan. 31st ILB post, headed "Courts - "Muncie native joins U.S. Court of Appeals"," Thomas St. Myer writes today in the Muncie Star-Press in a lengthy story that begins:

MUNCIE — Dozens of men and women shook his hand, exchanged hugs or posed for pictures with Robert Wilkins after his speech Thursday afternoon in the Cornerstone Center for the Arts Colonnade Room.

Wilkins smiled throughout as he caught up with old friends. One person after another walked up to him and said, “I’m so proud of you” or “It’s an honor to meet you.” Wilkins humbly responded, “Thank you” a countless number of times and posed for his final picture about 45 minutes after delivering an uplifting speech at the 22nd annual Muncie Black Expo Luncheon.

“It is overwhelming,” said Wilkins, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

From later in the story, a notable account:
One moment that stood out to Wilkins as he reflected on the past 25 years occurred in 1992 when the Maryland State Police pulled over a vehicle, occupied by him and three other family members, for speeding.

Wilkins told the luncheon crowd that the police officer insisted on searching the vehicle for drugs. Wilkins and his passengers refused to consent to the search, and the situation soon escalated.

“He made us wait for a drug-sniffing dog he brought to the scene, even though he was aware I was a public defender,” Wilkins said. “I told him the name of the Supreme Court case that said he shouldn’t be doing what he was doing and none of that mattered.

“No drugs were found and we were let go, but just the indignity of all of it was a little too much to bear.”

Wilkins filed a lawsuit and won a landmark settlement against the state of Maryland. The lawsuit exposed that the Maryland State Police targeted black drivers. Wilkins negotiated in the settlement for the police to collect data on who they stop and search. Maryland broke ground as the first state police to collect that type of data, a practice now implemented by 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 30, 2014 12:54 PM
Posted to Courts in general