You think elections have gotten personal? In Arizona, one candidate wields the wooden stake. (Happy Halloween!)

You think elections have gotten personal? In Arizona, one candidate wields the wooden stake. (Happy Halloween!)

Today is the Change of Venue Friday that precedes Election Day. And it’s also Halloween. So I am going to take a few scary risks: (1) This post could sway a major Arizona election, and (2) After reading this, your Halloween—and government—may be even more frightening than you had expected.

AZ Mine Inspector logo

The state race I’m discussing drills down to the core of who we are as residents of a Western state. Of course, I refer to the Arizona Mine Inspector race.

I must declare a conflict right away, as our own 18-year-old daughter has declared her own intent—just to her family and a few friends—of being a write-in candidate for this very race. With no actual mining experience or education, I do not expect her to prevail. #prouddad. But duly disclosed.

The pitched battle for Mine Inspector is being waged to unseat incumbent Joe Hart, who has been in the position since 2007. Here is some background on Hart from the official state page. And if that’s not enough, here is a Wikipedia page about him. (Yes, there is a Wikipedia page for Arizona’s Mine Inspector; if you don’t have your own page yet, you’re clearly not trying very hard.)

But what has been a sleepy and relatively uncontested race has been changed this year by a write-in candidate committed to … ridding Arizona’s mines of vampires.

Ian Kobe is the fellow’s name, and his campaign may make you chuckle and creep you out all at the same time. You can see more about his wooden stake-based campaign on his Facebook page.

Here are a few images/status posts from his page:

 

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 2

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 3 Facebook post

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 1 skull and crossbonesI must add that I’ve been surprised at the small (or no) coverage given to this unique approach to mine safety (which, let’s admit, is a pretty good fake and comic campaign). But it seems that Kobe has cornered the market on Dracula-free tunnels.

Have a great—and oh-so-frightening—weekend.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

On October 21, law firm Dickinson Wright held an open house to showcase their new space in the Viad Corporate Tower in midtown Phoenix. I stopped by to take a look.

Congratulations to the firm and its managing partner, Gary Birnbaum, who made some terrific choices for the new offices (especially in flooring and lighting—nice work!).

The event was impressive, and even included some culture. It was a pleasure and a treat to have live performances by talented young actors from the Valley Youth Theatre. They performed a selection of works from the then-current show Narnia. (Full disclosure: My daughter is in an upcoming VYT show. And as long as I’m disclosing, note that tickets are available here for A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail. If you go, give extra applause to Rabbit; I’d appreciate it.)

Touring law firm offices is a little like assessing gradations of diamond quality through a loupe. I mean, most of these offices rival fine hotel spaces in their sophisticated opulence. Among that class of office, though, I must say that the firm has created interior spaces that would be great to inhabit for 1,900 billable hours per year or so.

What made my tour a real pleasure, though, was the company. Firm partner Fred Cummings and communications pro Andrea Kalmanovitz made sure I saw ever item I desired and were helpful in answering all my intrusive questions.

For example, on the nuts and bolts, in case you’re wondering: According to the firm, the initial Dickinson Wright Arizona office lease agreement is through 2026.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright's Phoenix offices.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright’s Phoenix offices.

Fred’s good humor was especially appreciated. He even showed me his office, which (honestly, Fred) could use a few homey touches.

One thing I was pleased to see is the new space for the firm library. I knew it must be much reduced, and it is. Here is a photo of that new area:

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

As firms make these moves, they must decide whether and how to carry over their voluminous volumes. Most, like Dickinson, must pare down to a select few tomes. For not only are fewer lawyers turning to the print books, but the massive weight of them can make tenant improvement costs prohibitive. For example, in a multi-floor firm, the floor that holds your full-blown library can cost many times your other floors, simply for shoring up that paper weight.

(Another approach I noted last year in Fennemore Craig’s new offices: Subdividing that smaller number of volumes among the floors and spaces to site certain volumes near relevant practice groups of attorneys.)

This library-reduction development is not simply an Arizona one, of course. About a week ago, the New York Times ran article on Kaye Scholer’s new space. It’s titled “So Little Paper to Chase in a Law Firm’s New Library,” and here is a photo of that storied firm’s new library space (Dickinson’s may be nicer):

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Back at Dickinson Wright, the firm used the interior design services of Krause Interior Architects: Brad Krause, Jennifer Consentino and Alexandra Ayres. Andrea Kalmanovitz also tells me that the firm has worked with KIA in connection with its previous relocation and various expansions of its facilities. “The color scheme (largely gray, white, blue and various wood tones) was selected by the architect to convey a modern image and to reflect the youth and vitality of the Firm. The space consists of approximately 45,000 square feet.”

Some more photos from my tour are below (click to biggify). Congratulations again to Dickinson Wright on their beautiful new digs. Here’s to your attorneys, whether they enjoy using print books or not.

 

Panelists Hon. Joseph Welty, Bill Montgomery and Justice Robert Brutinel discuss mobile devices in the courtroom, Oct. 17, 2014, Phoenix Ariz.

Panelists Hon. Joseph Welty, Bill Montgomery and Justice Robert Brutinel discuss mobile devices in the courtroom, Oct. 17, 2014, Phoenix Ariz.

A recent panel discussion on mobile devices in courtrooms yielded surprising agreement on the role of those devices in the justice system. It took the lone media representative on the panel to throw a little cold water on that unified discussion.

I mentioned before the October 17 event, held at the ASU Cronkite School. Tonight, as sad word emerges from the Arizona Republic of its latest round of forced journalist departures, let me give a synopsis of the Arizona dialogue about technology in courtrooms.

The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona event was introduced by journo and educator Mark Scarp (Mark is also the Past President of the Society of Professional Journalists Valley of the Sun Chapter). The panel, moderated by attorney David Bodney, included:

  • Justice Robert Brutinel, chair of a Court committee that examined the issue
  • Hon. Joseph Welty, Presiding Criminal Judge for Maricopa County
  • Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney
  • Criminal defense attorney Jennifer Willmott (and counsel in the Jodi Arias case)
  • Cathie Batbie, news director at KVOA-TV (Channel 4-NBC) in Tucson

As previously mentioned, the panel discussed the impact of two rule changes, specifically made to Supreme Court Rule 122.1 (use of mobile devices in courtrooms) and Rule 122 (video, audio and still photography in courtrooms).

ASU Cronkite Journalism School, site for panel discussion of mobile devices in courtrooms, Oct. 17, 2014.

ASU Cronkite Journalism School, site for panel discussion of mobile devices in courtrooms, Oct. 17, 2014.

Justice Brutinel led off the conversation by explaining the committee’s thinking. As he sat in the journalism school’s First Amendment Forum, he stated a truism: “There’s a division between the interests of journalists and the interests of justice.”

Initially, he said, the committee considered some drastic approaches. Could a rule simply exclude all digital technology from the courthouse? Could it create a technological wall that prevented its use anywhere in the building?

No, and no, as it turned out. The first would be unworkable and overbearing in numerous ways. And the second would violate FCC regulations.

It wasn’t a slam-dunk, though. Justice Brutinel said that it was hotly contested by the committee, and a full prohibition was argued three separate times. It was finally determined that was not a reasonable position. In fact, there was no good and abiding reason not to allow such devices, with some restrictions.

Guiding the work of the committee, Justice Brutinel said, were certain realities, such as the fact that virtually everyone has a portable electronic device (or three) today. But also discussed among committee members were certain beliefs, held by at least a few: The presence of cameras changes the way people behave (though that effect may wane over time). And it is more difficult than ever before to determine who is a “journalist.”

The answer to the second issue is simple: Courts no longer ask if a person requesting electronic use is part of the media. The same rules apply to all.

L to R: Justice Robert Brutinel, Jennifer Willmott, Cathie Batbie

L to R: Justice Robert Brutinel, Jennifer Willmott, Cathie Batbie

As David Bodney said, the most important takeaway of the new rules is that you must ask for permission; the judge wants to know if you will interfere in the process, so they want to be asked.

That seemingly simple imprecation was challenged by KVOA’s Cathie Batbie, though. She explained how there appeared to be uniform approaches in the Tucson Superior Courts to disallow cameras, no matter the request. “We’re a visual medium, and the public has a right to that access.”

The dialogue that followed may be the definition of the devil in the details. When many on the panel urged that the press should simply take an appeal to the Court of Appeals, Batbie explained again the reality of a profession that travels faster than one whose holdings are conveyed in a West’s bound volume. Such a litigious approach, while possible, Batbie said, was unlikely to occur—or to be helpful.

“How do you get information to the public when you have these hurdles?” Batbie asked. The answer, she suggested, is “Don’t set rules based on some bad journalists, but on what’s right for the public.”

“You do want people to know what you’re doing every day.”

That statement (or perhaps it was a question) went unanswered.

Judge Welty discussed the “logistical challenges” associated with Rule 122. They are “not insurmountable,” he said, but the initial result was that journalists asked to be at every proceeding, just to be cover their bases. Then, as the date for proceedings approached, media made strategic decisions and often didn’t appear.

The Presiding Criminal Judge was the first panelist to use the phrases “gavel to gavel coverage” and “live-streaming,” developments that clearly troubled numerous members of the panel. Judge Welty called it “presenting trials as TV dramas.”

“I’m not sure it’s journalism; it may be reality TV.”

Bill Montgomery offered, “Is it a modern version of the Roman Circus and just trying to provide entertainment?” (which may have been a statement and not a question)

“This is a business environment that is not healthy to our republic,” Montgomery continued, “and that does not create confidence in our justice system.”

“When someone drives several states to get a prosecutor’s autograph, and when he’s told no, he breaks down, this system is not working.”

Jennifer Willmott, counsel in a case often derided as a Roman Circus, said that “What we want is an honest and fair trial.”

Willmott extended the discussion about media inside the courtroom to the larger world: “Cyberlynchings occur on social media among people who know noting about the case.”

Judge Welty added, “Are [TV stations] producing a TV drama or presenting information about our institutions?” (I think he was being rhetorical.)

Faced with prosecutor, court and defense all wrinkling their nose in distaste at TV coverage of trials (or I should say trial; can you say Jodi Arias?), Cathie Batbie could merely offer, “Streaming video is huge. It’s important to provide that coverage, with safeguards.”

Mark Scarp introduces the panel, including (L to R) moderator David Bodney, Hon. Joseph Welty, Bill Montgomery.

Mark Scarp introduces the panel, including (L to R) moderator David Bodney, Hon. Joseph Welty, Bill Montgomery.

After the event, Montgomery said that the new rules allow for flexibility, and broader understanding of the trial system by the public is a good thing.

But when “talking heads give their theory of the prosecution and they don’t even undertsand the law in our jurisdiction,” they do a disservice to viewers.

“Bad media can affect how people act in the courtroom,” Montgomery added.

So what comes next? Enforcement—and education.

Judge Welty said that Rule 122.1 is “completely technology-driven.” Over the next five years, he said, tools like Google glass and iwatches “will make the curent rule meaningless.” When that happens, he said, “We’ll move to enforcing violations rather than banning devices.”

Finally, he offered a call to action: “This issue behooves the State Bar to put together a program for lawyers on all their ethical responsibilities” in regard to mobile devices in courtrooms.

Who’s in? I do know if the Bar puts on such a seminar, it’ll probably be live-streamed.

AZ Black Bar logoToday, I catch up with another Arizona legal event of note: the Arizona Black Bar’s Hayzel B. Daniels Scholarship Award Dinner.

Held on October 16, 2014, at the Phoenix Art Museum, the event carried through on its theme of “closing the opportunity gap and building coalitions.”

In the story of bridging the gap between communities, the keynote speaker was an inspired choice. Attorney Connie Rice is the co-founder of the Advancement Project, described by organizers as “an organization that was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.”

AZ Black Bar Connie-L-Rice

Connie L. Rice

Rice spent decades suing for justice in Los Angeles, but her work yielded not only positive outcomes for underserved communities; it also yielded respect and more from California centers of power. For as Judge Carol Berry introduced her, “Connie Rice would wake up every morning thinking of new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department. Today, they give her a parking space.”

Rice’s remarks were salted with numerous memories of toiling in the high-pressure L.A. legal community. “I learned from Johnnie Cochran,” she said of the storied trial lawyer. “I did whatever he did—but better.”

Her speech at the Phoenix Art Museum focused on the LAPD, which she claimed has come a long way.

Recalling her initial impressions, Rice said, “I had never been to a town where everyone hated the cops.”

Her answer to alleged dehumanizing practices was through the courts.

“Back then, I was totally fearless. We had seven major class actions; we won. But with every victory, what could I show the community?”

To Rice, the problems—and the solutions—lay deeper.

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” she wondered. “Why do they make every African American get out of their car and lie on the ground?”

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

Part of the solution, she started to believe, came from new ways of seeing. For if an officer could look at a little Black boy and “see only an arrest statistic, and not feel love,” change would never occur.

The drug war and the prevalence of gangs was then making parts of Los Angeles a place of daily terror. And that spurred Rice to consider new approaches.

“I was winning my cases, but my clients were losing their lives. The first of the civil rights is the right to be safe. The first of all freedoms is the freedom from violence.”

She told the audience that her book Power Concedes Nothing is where she “documented my journey into copland and gangland, and then knit them together.”

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

The book explains how she was invited into the police department to help investigate police corruption and stayed to help rewrite the department’s anti-gang efforts.

Those efforts are credited by Rice with significant decreases in gang-related deaths. And it was “the most important thing I’ve done.”

Of her work with the police department, Rice says, “It’s all about cross-pollination, the opening of hearts and minds.”

Rice says the approaches are replicable across the country.

“If we can turn the LAPD into a bunch of heartfelt cops, anybody can do this. The lesson is, you can unlock everybody’s heart if you take the time to learn what’s in others’ hearts.”

To hear from Connie Rice herself, watch this video from a previous award.

Congratulations to the Black Bar and its leadership, including its President Gerald P. Richard II. Not only is he an esteemed attorney who serves as the Assistant to the Phoenix Police Chief, he also was an event honoree, receiving the Cecil B. Patterson Jr. Community Service Award.

Finally, if you’re curious what your correspondent writes on when he arrives at an event and realizes his pad is full and he needs more, click here.

Fastcase logoSome easy watching for your Monday.

Fastcase has been a free member benefit of State Bar of Arizona members since, well, for years really.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, the Fastcase folks have created a video—90 seconds long—to urge you attorneys to make use of the member benefit.

An aficionado of digital presentations, I’m pleased to see that the Fastcase people have used Prezi (I’m pretty sure) to create their offering. Here it is:

Let me know if it pushes you over the edge and gets you to try it.

Which Justice is this? You’ll have to watch to find out. Puppy and Supreme Court Last2Week_Tonight_with_John_Oliver

Which Justice is this? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Today’s post is of the type for which Change of Venue Friday was created. I’m guessing you’ll like it.

There is a video going around, viral-like, from the TV program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In fact, so viral it is, and so many lawyers have mentioned it to me, that I hesitated to offer it here. But finally I examined the matter and applied high editorial values, and I saw that the content includes puppies. So you’re welcome.

The challenge faced by the show’s producers—and by any American who cares about American justice—is that the U.S. Supreme Court will not allow cameras in its august chamber. So the show decided to create a courtroom mockup and have dogs sit in the justices’ seats. They then could use the official audio from the actual courtroom to make history come alive for all of us.

Watch below.

As if that’s not enough, the patriots at the Last Week Tonight show did this: They offered a video of the dogs “deliberating,” entirely without audio. Why? They explain:

“We have provided this footage for you to do your own Supreme Court reenactments. Please feel free to use it, post your videos, and tag them #RealAnimalsFakePaws so we can find them.”

Here it is:

Enjoy? Go here to see more of what the show is up to.

And be sure to get the official audio from the Supreme Court (capable of puppy-purposing) here.

Have a fun—and chew-toy-filled—weekend.

NABA-AZ Native American Bar Association of Arizona  banquet brochures

I am working hard this week to catch up with a few great events I recently attended. Each reminded me how vibrant and healthy Arizona’s legal community is—if we could only take the time to look.

Way back on September 27, I had the privilege to attend the annual Native American Bar Association of Arizona Seven Generations Dinner, held at the Radission Fort McDowell Resort. As always, organizers took the time to recognize leading lights in their midst:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Robert Clinton, Foundation Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU
  • Community Award: Hon. Diane Enos, President, Salt River–Pima Maricopa Indian Community
  • Member of the Year: Diandra D. Benally, Assistant General Counsel, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
NABA-AZ 2014 award winners (L to R): Diandra Benally, Robert Clinton, Diane Enos

NABA-AZ 2014 award winners (L to R): Diandra Benally, Robert Clinton, Diane Enos

When he spoke, Robert Clinton admired the fact that “the cadre of Native scholars has grown.” He compared the current day with four decades ago, and was clear in his larger goal: to have Indian country represented by Native attorneys. “Today,” he said, “there is a large cohort of talented, trained Native lawyers.” Nationwide, he said, there are more than 3,000 Native American attorneys.

Diane Enos, the 23rd President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, told attendees that “Most people I know went into the practice of law because they believed in service.”

Her own service goes back decades. The onetime reporter covered the community for the Scottsdale Progress. She described the steps taken by her tribe to keep secret their decision-making about the then-planned Pima Freeway. The memory of that opacity frustrates her to this day.

“Our people have the right to know what’s going on in their own government, to have a say in what happens.”

Her interest in transparent process led Enos to law school. While there, she ran for a tribal council position as a second-year law student, ultimately being elected to four terms.

You have to act,” she said, “or else who will act?”

Finally, Enos reminded listeners what’s most vital to communities.

“The right of self-representation and dignity are most important. We are all just a part of this whole stream of giving.”

Sculpture from the NABA-AZ annual event

Sculpture from the NABA-AZ annual event (click to enlarge)

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