January 2011

I previously covered efforts by lawyers and law students to support the arts. Here are two items I’ve received in the past day or so from this dynamic group of people.

(Thank you for the information sharing to Megan Scott. Megan is a J.D. Candidate at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (2012), President of the Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists, VP of the Entertainment, Sports and Entertainment Law Students Association, and Co-Founder and Senior Articles Editor of the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.)

The Phoenix Art Museum, Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists and the Arizona Commission on the Arts are partnering to present a three-part “know your rights” series for artists, collectors and patrons of the arts. The presentations are done by attorneys that specialize in the area discussed. This is an invaluable opportunity to make sure that you are protecting yourself, your art, and your rights as best as you can. We look forward to seeing you there!

The events are free; e-mail education@phxart.org if you plan to attend.

  • January 19, 6pm: Contracts and Legal Forms: This session addresses common contract terms and concepts artists, museums and gallery owners might face.
  • February 2, 6pm: Copyrights and Fair Use: This session is an overview of copyright law, how it applies to artists and protects them, as well as the way to obtain a copyright.
  • February 16, 6pm: Tax Issues and Taxes: This session reviews issues that artists and art collectors should know when preparing their taxes.

All three seminars will be held at:

Phoenix Art Museum

1625 North Central Avenue (NE corner of Central and McDowell)

Phoenix, Arizona 85004

And here is an opportunity from the VSA—The International Organization on Arts and Disability. VSA is an organization dedicated to working with disabled artists. It is looking to expand its current board structure. If you are interested in joining the VSA, please e-mail Amara at amara.edblad@gmail.com by the end of January. Though they are looking for new board members in general, the specific areas that they are looking to develop are:

  • Disability Community
  • Artist Community
  • High Net Worth Community
  • Board Experience
  • Marketing Knowledge
  • Fundraising Experience
  • IT Profession
  • Gender Balance
  • Ethnicity Balance
  • Tucson Representation
  • Educator
  • Legislative Representation

So busy has January been that the holidays seem very long ago. But one thing that reminds me of December gifts still sits on my desk—where I expect it to stay for a long time to come.

I wrote before about gifts that trickle into offices during the holidays. There, I focused on presents of a caloric variety, like cakes and candy. But today I write about a gift that turned up the hotness quotient in another way.

Bowman and Brooke LLP have been out there lawyering now for 25 years. Because no one can describe a firm better than the lawyers themselves, here they are, in their own words:

“In less than 25 years, Bowman and Brooke LLP has become a nationally recognized trial firm and the fourth largest product liability practice in the country. The firm’s 150 attorneys defend a variety of corporate clients, including many Fortune 500 and internationally-based companies, in widely publicized catastrophic injury and wrongful death verdicts, and other complex litigation throughout all 50 states.”

Very nice, of course, but hardly the point of today’s essay—though it is connected.

Paul Cereghini

As the Bowman firm looked about for a way to mark their anniversary, they may have pondered Lucite plaques, coffee mugs, and even pens. Fortunately for us history and law buffs, though, they kept thinking, and came up with a great idea: a book of photographs of American courthouses.

Of course, there is a tie to the firm. As their press release says, “Anywhere. Anytime. Any Courthouse gathers an array of photographs of the 250 courthouses nationwide where Bowman and Brooke lawyers have tried cases.” (Read the complete release here.)

Boasting? Sure, maybe more than a wee bit. But the massive tome makes an impression on a reader (and on his lap!), and it is a wonderful visual tribute to those physical locations where we are pleased to report that the business of justice gets done.

Those places have great psychic and emotional power, which we saw again this past week, as the Ninth Circuit ordered flags flown at half-mast in honor of Chief Judge John Roll. As I reported, it is moving simply to gaze on the Circuit’s buildings fronted by flags.

Jeff Brooke

And so it is in this book. I found myself traveling page by page through the 282-page volume, looking with interest at courthouses I have no connection to and that I may never visit. And the lack of narrative was no deterrent. Or rather, the subtle narrative of American justice as wrought in buildings great and small made the page-turning easy.

I sat down and spoke with Bowman and Brooke’s own Paul Cereghini and Jeff Brooke about their courthouse book project.

Cereghini is the firm’s Executive Managing Partner. Brooke is a Founding Partner and the firm’s General Counsel. And both of them were excited to talk about a book of photos.

First, of course, we talked about the firm and its accomplishments. And there was much to discuss: The firm is lead defense counsel in Yamaha Rhino cases, and in Toyota unintended acceleration cases. It also has played important recent roles for clients like Altria and Briggs Pain Pumps.

Arizona Attorney Magazine covered the firm way back in December 2003. Back then, I spoke with them mainly in regard to their automotive/motor vehicle/products liability defense work. Today, Cereghini says, the firm has added more work in mass tort defense, class actions and national pattern litigation.

And, he adds, the firm has more than two dozen lawyers who have first-chair experience in defending catastrophic injury cases. And that, he says, is where the book idea came from.

Initially, Cereghini says, the firm considered a more traditional book focused on major trials. But that would necessarily have meant it would focus on particular individuals—lawyers and clients—rather than on the firm as a whole.

With about 684 confirmed trials under its belt, the firm moved toward a different idea: a book featuring a photo of every courthouse in which a Bowman and Brooke lawyer had handled a case. That would have meant about 350 buildings; Cereghini finally settled on about 250.

Cereghini admits he is moved by the photos, knowing that “someone from our firm passed through the doors of each one.”

Just as moving, the photos are unaccompanied by commentary—except for occasional enlightening quotations, which we’ll cover in a moment.

Jeff Brooke came to know quite a few of those courthouses firsthand. Semi-retired now, he said he had driven from Washington State to the firm’s office in Minneapolis. When he got there, he heard from a firm marketer.

“She was surprised I had driven across the country—and not told her!” She was gathering material for the book and had a database of courthouses, most of which the firm had hired professional photographers to shoot. But there were gaps.

“She said, ‘I need Bismarck. I need Fargo!’”

So Brooke, an accomplished photographer, agreed to take a more leisurely drive southwest, to Phoenix. Along the way, he and Sheila, his Australian Shepherd, stopped and shot about 20 courthouses. Later, he drove north through Northern California, photographing as he went.

His favorites?

“Some of the best pictures I took were in Iowa,” Brooke says. “But my favorite is of a courthouse where I tried a case, in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico. It’s very pretty.”

The book went as far afield as to shoot courthouses in Canada and Puerto Rico, but none are featured from the two states in which the firm has had no litigation: Delaware and New Hampshire.

Cereghini is pleased to share credit for the outcome with Dan Vermillion, in Phoenix, who handled post-production on all the photos. And their publisher in Minnesota, Brio, printed about 2,000 copies of the striking book.

The book’s jacket features images of courthouses from the firm’s first two office locations: the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth, Minnesota, and the Cochise County Courthouse from right here in Bisbee.

“Paul invested a lot of himself into this,” says Jeff Brooke. “Praise for the vision, the prose, the physical layout—that really goes to Paul.”

The prose, little that there is, compels the reader to pause and read. Along the way, we read inspirational musings by quite a few heavy hitters. Let’s end with a few of those quotations.

Muhammed Ali: “If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize.”

Harper Lee, in To Kill a Mockingbird: “But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentleman, is a court.”

Maya Angelou: “Nothing will work unless you do.”

Louis Pasteur: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Abraham Lincoln: “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle.”

Finally, Dizzy Dean: “If you done it, it ain’t braggin’.”

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Law School Admissions Council logo

Should the LSAT be required by law schools? Does performance on that exam bear any correlation to later success as a lawyer?

For years, the American Bar Association has answered with an emphatic “Yes.” But more and more people have openly wondered whether that’s the case.

Now, the ABA is scratching its own head and re-opening the conversation. A news story today reports that an ABA panel is “leaning toward” recommending an end to the requirement.

The story is a good backgrounder on the issue. It quotes experts who are at least tentatively aligned with the probable approach (though the Law School Admissions Council, which runs the LSAT, said that “the organization was not commenting until the ABA issues a final recommendation”).

If you’re new to this conversation, you may be wondering what’s the big deal? There’s this non-mandatory organization of lawyers considering a non-binding decision that may alter admission to law school.

To see some of the decades of vitriol that resides behind the ABA’s review, scroll to the very end of the news story. There, you will hear from the dean at the Massachusetts School of Law, which engaged in long battle with the ABA over this exact high-stakes exam.

And in case you thought that the pending ABA decision will heal old wounds, read Dean Velvel’s comments on how he claims the ABA keeps “the poor and the lower middle class out of law schools and the legal profession.”

What do you think? Should the LSAT be abandoned? Or should the ABA at least allow schools to decide for themselves if they’d like to use it?

And what about the claims that high-stakes exams like the LSAT keep the applicant pool far less diverse than it would be otherwise?

More on this story as it develops.

Last June, I wrote about a growing national boycott of Arizona by musicians in response to its passage of SB1070, our immigration-criminal law. The boycott was organized by Sound Strike, a coalition of musicians.

This week, we learned that Arizona activist (and possible Phoenix mayor candidate) Kimber Lanning landed a national convention of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores. One of the headliners will be the band Calexico.

To read Kimber’s letter imploring support for the February event, go here (or scroll to the bottom of this post).

For more on the story from the Republic, go here.

Here’s Kimber’s letter:

My friends,


I have worked to secure the national convention of music industry professionals here in Phoenix from Feb 2-6. We will have about 100 folks in town from around the country and we’re trying to put a good face on Arizona. Six months ago, the organizers were considering boycotting Arizona, but we convinced them to come by outlining several concerts that would be a tribute to our Latino culture and heritage, which they are all very excited to see.

Calexico is my favorite Arizona band of all time (http://www.myspace.com/casadecalexico/music) and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been in this business for 25 years. They do a wonderful job combining indie rock with Mariachi and their live show is simply amazing. We are doing the show at Corona Ranch (http://www.coronaranch.com/), which if you haven’t been is truly a hidden gem here in town – at the base of South Mountain, it’s everything we are proud of here in Arizona. Opening the show will be Sergio Mendoza with Salvador Duran (http://www.myspace.com/ylaorkesta/music) and Mariachi Pasion (http://www.mariachipasion.com/).

I am asking all of my friends to please, please grab your partner, your family and friends, and come help us celebrate Arizona heritage with our guests from around the country. Calexico, as you may know, is very, very close to Gabby Giffords, and this will be their first appearance after the horrors in Tucson. We need to come together as Arizonans to celebrate and to heal.

If you only see one show this year, please let this be the one.

Friday, February 4th, 7 PM, tickets are available here or at Stinkweeds, Hoodlums, or Zia.

Lastly, a percentage of the proceeds will be going to Ear Candy Charity, an organization working to put musical instruments into the hands of children, which we hope will teach them compassion and tolerance. Music is the universal language, after all.

Thanks in advance, for your presence.

Kimber Lanning

P.S. please help me spread the word by inviting others I may not know who appreciate the importance of this occasion.

On Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, here are a few stories with Arizona ties.

The first comes to us from the nationally significant Blawg Review. In this (usually) weekly event, a designated law blogger examines the world around him or her and posts a roundup through their own unique lens. And this week’s focus on Martin Luther King Jr. opens by noting Arizona’s recent tragic events.

Thanks to apublicdefender for a great gathering of posts. For more information on Blawg Review, including details on what’s coming up, and how to volunteer yourself for the roundup task, go here.

Closer to home, a news story in the Arizona Republic examines how the MLK Day has taken on greater meaning with the recent tragedy in Tucson.

“A state that once resisted the notion of a King holiday – and last year was the setting for a sharp-tongued debate on immigration – now finds itself in search of solace after the Jan. 8 attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the people around her outside a grocery store near Tucson.”

“The balm of choice is King, a pacifist Southern preacher whose own life was cut short by gun violence.”

Well put.

Finally, six people were honored at last week’s MLK Breakfast sponsored by the Phoenix Human Relations Commission. Those recognized range from a college professor, to a gay-rights activist, to a barber.

Read the complete story here.

Arizona Rep. Cecil Ash

Among the variety of news stories I came across today, there was an aggregation of “Lawmaker Priorities” in the Arizona Republic.

Here is one of the more interesting in the listings:

Cecil Ash, R-Mesa

House Health and Human Services Committee chairman

• Establish a Sentencing Commission, which will be advisory to the Legislature, to acquaint legislators with the best practices of other jurisdictions and help reduce Arizona incarcerations and rehabilitate inmates.
• Make consecutive sentences for some crimes optional, rather than mandatory.

Representative Ash has mentioned this before, but it still has the power to surprise (perhaps it’s the “R” after his name, or the fact that sentencing reform is often DOA in Arizona). So congratulations to him for trying.

In the coming three months, I will be working on a story for Arizona Attorney Magazine on sentencing reform (or the lack of it), and I’ll be contacting Representative Ash for his insights.

In an upcoming post, I’ll let you know what spurred me to write on the topic. The short answer is that it’s related to a trip I’m taking to New York soon. But the longer and more detailed explanation is … later.

Rep. Cecil Ash at Law School for Legislators, Jan. 6, 2011, Phoenix

Read all the lawmaker priorities here.

Arizona’s budget mess rode the top edge of the Arizona Republic today, which means we may be getting back to a focus on our state dysfunction.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

In their coverage, the Republic put two of their hardest-working reporters to the task of explaining our dilemma: Mary Jo Pitzl and Mary K. Reinhart. The Marys Two did a great job of detailing the proposal issued by Governor Jan Brewer. And in so doing, they demonstrated just how bad things are.

Mary Jo Pitzl wrote the cover story on the budget plan. Mary K. Reinhart wrote on cuts to mental health (a timely and tragic analogue).

Along with their stories was good coverage of cuts to university funding, written by Alia Beard Rau, and a Republic editorial—the point of which still escapes me. But then again, I only read it twice.

A few takeaways I had from today’s news:

  • Nowhere in the Governor’s proposal is there any serious mention of “other funding sources.” Yes, we may charge families an annual fee to visit their loved ones in prison (because, according to Corrections Director Charles Ryan, visits are “a privilege,” and not a valuable part of helping an inmate re-immerse into communities). And there is an acknowledgment that certain state cuts will result in property tax increases. But this administration won’t touch other possibilities with a 10-foot poll.
  • There was scant comment from others who may have a different view. I imagine that will come later, but we may also want to look at the views of Arizona residents. Just last fall, in the run-up to a vote on the one-cent sales tax, Arizonans indicated that they were willing to have their taxes raised for certain things they valued. Not all things, mind you. But they genuinely fear what appears to be an inexorable slide to the Detroit-ing of our state. Cutting our way out of a problem may not be as popular as the Governor’s Office believes—especially when people see their other taxes go up, more mentally ill on the streets, and the only state growth area being prisons. Do we believe our young people will choose to remain in a state like that when they get the chance to leave?
  • The paper’s editorial essentially said that we all need to get involved and tell our state leaders what we value. Um, OK. But along the way, it also informed us that:

Brewer has been a supporter of the universities, but her budget would slash their state funding by 20 percent, on top of previous cuts. Community colleges would lose half of their state support.”

  • It was the first clause that made me spill hot coffee on myself. “A supporter”? Well, she did support the one-cent sales tax, I’ll give her that. But I couldn’t think of any other evidence to support the statement.
  • And then I thought, maybe it’s like this: My neighbors have a loud party that goes into the wee hours. I’ve never really understood the appeal of those neighbors, or even of music, come to think of it, and I’ve always thought the neighbors were too hoity-toity and think too much of themselves. So I grumble, stomp around the house, and consider calling the police. But my wife convinces me just to go to bed, and I do that rather than report them. And later I overcharge them when they buy lemonade from my kids. So I guess I could be called “a supporter” of their party. You know, like that.
  • In the main story, John Arnold is quoted. He is the Director if the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (whose title should be trimmed to “Budget Director”). He was asked about the Governor’s proposal to seek a waiver from federal mandates that require the state to pay for coverage of “childless adults and curb funding to some low-income parents, and blind and disabled people.” His assessment was that “It’s really cataclysmic if we don’t get the waiver.”
  • From what I’ve read about John Arnold, he sounds like a good guy with good experience. But he may want to look up the dictionary definition of cataclysm. Or, even easier, he should speak to some of those disabled Arizonans whose lives are about to be plunged into disarray and worse if he gets his waiver. They would give him some true insight into the word’s meaning.

According to “TrustandVerify,” an AK-47 like this can be bought via the Arizona Republic classifieds

Much of the Internet traffic following up on the Tucson shooting has dwelled on what could have been done to treat Jared Loughner’s apparent mental illness.

Well, first of all, let’s wait for an assessment by mental health professionals. Granted, he walks like a duck, and smirks like a duck—but I’m no clinician.

And second, the idea that “any one of us” could have picked up the phone, called a state agency, and “gotten this guy off the streets” is laughable. Yes, Arizona’s commitment statute is different from that of other states and does permit any person to make such a call.

But who will answer? We have watched as our state services, including mental health, have been decimated. Is there anyone in fantasyland who thinks state health professionals are standing by, with empty caseloads, awaiting your (likely uninformed) call?

If so, you may want to turn yourself in.

And on the mental health question, Linda Valdez at the Arizona Republic wrote the other day on the shooting. She mused on whether early intervention by medical professionals could have prevented Loughner’s actions.

I try not to read the comments that follow news stories—they’re too depressing. But one post did catch my eye. That could be because it included an arresting image (above). But it also could be due to the fact that it examined the Republic’s own practices that may contribute to a more violent society.

I will let “TrustandVerify” speak for himself:

“There are currently more than 20 guns for sale by private parties in your newspaper. As I understand it, none of these purchases would require a background check. Some of them are sport guns for hunting birds or other animals that can be eaten.”

“[But] some of them are extremely bad news, such as the AK47 Shorty Pistol I have pictured below. Crazy people buy guns like this from private parties without a background check. And your newspaper is facilitating the exchanges for profit.”

No responding post from Linda Valdez or the Republic yet. Maybe I should call a state agency to raise the issue. I’m sure they’re awaiting my call.

This morning, Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll will be laid to rest in Tucson. As we and others reported before, he was gunned down on January 8 in an attack that was directed at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Many will undoubtedly attend the funeral mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. But far more will be unable to make the trip. For those people, honoring the judge may be as close as your federal courthouse—or even the Web.

As Above the Law has reported, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Alex Kozinski, has ordered flags at all federal courthouses in the Circuit to be flown at half-mast. But he’s gone further than that. He wants to share what that looks like.

The Ninth Circuit website includes a growing photo gallery of flags at those courthouses. And Judge Kozinski asked Above the Law readers whether they could assist the Circuit: If you see that your local federal courthouse is not represented, please take a photo (with flag) and send it to the Circuit.

When I read the news item at ATL, I was a bit skeptical. For I could pretty easily picture in my mind’s eye what a courthouse looked like, and what a flag looked like. Aggregating hundreds of them would provide a lot of volume, I thought, but not much insight.

Well, I was wrong. As a visual tribute to a fallen judge—one of the Circuit’s own—it is very powerful. I found myself peering intently at every courthouse, moved more and more as I scrolled down the page.

As you might guess, Arizona’s own federal courthouses reside near the top of the page. Take a few quiet moments today to look at the page and to think on John Roll’s service. In an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we will run a memoriam to the judge, who was a legal leader and a friend to the magazine.

Three related items:

  • The State Bar of Arizona, in partnership with the University of Arizona, has established the John M. Roll Memorial Fund. Money used will provide scholarships to students attending Judge Roll’s alma mater, the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. More information is here, and you can contribute here.
  • Because every interaction is an opportunity for learning, this news story got me wondering about the origins of flying flags at half-mast. Leave it to Wikipedia to make all clear. Among the fascinating facts:

“The tradition of flying the flag at half-mast began centuries ago, to allow ‘the invisible flag of death’ to fly at the top of the mast—which signified death’s presence, power, and prominence. In some countries, for example the UK, and especially in military contexts, a ‘half-mast’ flag is still flown exactly one flag’s width down from its normal position, and no lower, to allow for this flag of death. This was the original flag etiquette.”

  • Next week, I will report on another look at courthouses—this one will be in book form, used to celebrate a law firm’s anniversary and to exhibit pride in its trial accomplishments.

Rep. Luis Garcia, Florida, speaks (without his passport)

Recent Arizona events have shined the nation’s attention on the Grand Canyon State. And amidst that focus, it’s been easy to forget the country’s recent fixation with Arizona’s main industry: immigration news.

SB1070 may have many far-reaching effects. But one effect that is too little noticed is its conveyance of a “word windfall” to columnists, reporters and bloggers. And once the past week’s tragic events fade into memory, I am certain those writers will return their attention to the article-giving bosom of our state’s immigration regime.

In the past year, we’ve seen how much other states enjoy using Arizona, either as a cautionary tale or as a shining beacon of reverse-immigration (“Keep your tired, and your poor, and your huddled masses …”).

One sign that we remain the undisputed champion of state exemplars comes out of Florida this week. That state, like others, is considering enacting laws similar to Arizona’s (who said we don’t export anything?). It’s reported that a Florida state legislator has taken to wearing his passport to the lawmakers’ chamber. He wants to make the point that his Latino heritage is important, but his American citizenship should not be questioned.

The passport as a fashion and legal accessory—that could be the new big thing.

And for those of you traveling to our fair state who may have some concern about how welcome you will be, there are services that can apply for and procure your passport—fast. At least one service cites Arizona’s law as a reason to hire them.

So fear not. The attention of Americans may be fickle and fleeting, and our mild-mannered gun laws may occupy them for the moment. But to their minds, we remain, more than anything else, the “Show Us Your Papers” State.

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