Michigan City paralegal Christine Nichols honored for her dedication to law
La PORTE — For her lifelong commitment to the practice of law in La Porte County, Michigan City resident Christine Nichols has been presented the Liberty Bell Award.
At the La Porte County Courthouse in La Porte on Thursday, Nichols, nicknamed “Mama Circuit,” was presented with the award for her service to the La Porte County Court system, and different boards and committees for the county youth.
La Porte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Barbra Stooksbury presented the award after a presentation by La Porte County Superior Court 4 Judge William Boklund Jr. on the history of the practice of law in Indiana.
“I’m so overwhelmed, I’m so excited, I’m so grateful,” Nichols said.
The Liberty Bell Award is given annually to those who have dedicated themselves to practicing law and educating others about how the law works. Previous winners, according to Stooksbury, included Steve Eyrick, chief probation officer of La Porte County Probation; Corissa Strader, coordinator of the La Porte County Problem Solving Court; and Jane Bernard, retired director of the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter.
The event was part of Law Day, a nationally recognized celebration of how law and the justice system are integral to America, organizers said. This year’s theme was “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration.”
Stooksbury said Law Day has been celebrated for approximately 60 years nationally and in La Porte County for 35 years. She said the theme was chosen by the American Bar Association due to the political climate over the last several years.
“I do think the ABA wanted to focus on bringing everyone together again, despite political differences,” she said.
After receiving the award, Nichols thanked the judges, her family, as well as her past and current legal family, many of whom were in attendance, along with the volunteers she’s worked with.
“In my life, I have always really hoped … I really wanted to make a difference,” Nichols said. “By you giving me this award, by receiving it, I feel like you have given me the opportunity to touch on that goal, on that hope, that dream. I just cannot thank you enough.”
Nichols started her career in 1970 as a paralegal and has worked in the La Porte County Circuit Court for the last 30 years until her retirement in 2015 as chief of staff. She continues to come in to the office twice a week on a part- time basis.
She’s worked with several attorneys who would go on to become county judges, including Alevizos, Michael Bergerson and Robert Gilmore.
She serves on and was recently re-elected to the La Porte County Juvenile Court Advisory Board, and is a member of the Peace and Social Justice Commission of Queen of All Saints Church in Michigan City.
Asked what was next now that she has been presented with this award, Nichols said she still plans on working part-time at the Circuit Court, as well as spending time with her grandchildren, and working on the LPCJC Advisory Board.
“I guess I’ll never go away,” Nichols said.