November 2011


It was early November when I reminded the world that our annual Arts Competition for Arizona Attorney Magazine had launched. What that means, of course, is that it’s time to let your creative impulses run free.

But it occurred to me that Thanksgiving was such a significant November event, you may have put off the artistic task for another day. Well, today may be it.

We’ve got a raft of cool categories, the deadline’s not until mid-January, and we’ll publish the winners in a great magazine that you can share with your clients, your family or anyone else who may be delighted by the artist in you.

Here’s the data:

Click here for Guidelines & Rules (and look to the right side of the page).

Send all submissions here: ArtsContest@azbar.org

Questions? Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Deadline: Jan. 11, 2012

See you on the artistic side.

Our cover story in the January 2012 Arizona Attorney examines the prospects for criminal sentencing reform in the state. It quotes numerous people locally and nationally on the topic.

Here are links to a large number of the studies and reports cited in the article:

As November ends, it would be a mistake not to note a unique and helpful story in Arizona Attorney Magazine this month. It examines a capital case crisis that gripped a county, and that was addressed in a strategic way.

The article, by two Superior Court Judges and one Commissioner, follows on a previous story that raised alarms about a huge backlog in capital cases. While carefully avoiding the debate over the propriety of the death penalty, the authors faced the question of how the justice system can render justice when so many cases are in the pipeline that may result in the ultimate penalty.

Pretty well, they conclude this month. As the article opens:

“In April and May 2009, Arizona Attorney Magazine published, in two parts, ‘The Capital Case Crisis in Maricopa County: What (Little) We Can Do About It.’ Our goal in that piece was to explain the complexities of the preparation and trial of such cases, the steps required, and the participants involved, as a way to explain why capital cases take so long to try. We also discussed how they eventually resolve at the end of a long state and federal appellate and post-conviction relief process. On average, the length of time from arrest until execution of the sentence is 20 years

“As of Aug. 31, 2008, the time frame used in the article, the capital caseload in Maricopa County Superior Court appeared dire, with few apparent options to reduce capital cases awaiting trial.

“As of July 1, 2011, almost three years later, the situation has changed drastically. This follow-up article sets forth the reasons for this turnaround and the continuing steps the court has adopted to deal with the problem of too many capital cases to try with an insufficient number of judicial officers, courtrooms, experienced lawyers and mitigation specialists. We believe that what we describe may be used as a model for other jurisdictions faced with a similar problem, now or in the future.”

The previous story (in two parts) is available online here and here.

It is hard to describe the amount of work that the authors put into these articles. Five, 10, 20 years from now, I expect that readers will turn back to these stories to view a snapshot in time—and to revisit how a court solved what appeared to be an insoluble problem.

Thank you to all the authors: Judge Bob Gottsfield, Marianne Alcorn (now deceased), Judge Douglas Rayes and Commissioner Patti Starr.

Have you ever felt that the holidays can be a stressful time? Maybe, but the challenges we face are likely far less than those faced by children in group homes. For them, the holidays can be an especially painful time of year.

That’s why the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Arizona dedicates so much of their time and energy to a holiday party for kids in just such a home. They are hosting a party on December 3, and they need the help of Arizona lawyers. Here’s more information on what you can do.

Holiday Party for Children Residing at Sunshine Residential & Group Homes, Inc.

The celebration of major holidays are often difficult for children in residential care. Please help us make the holidays more enjoyable for the children of Sunshine Residential & Group Homes, Inc. by contributing to, and/or volunteering at, the Maricopa County Young Lawyers’ Division 2011 Holiday Party. Sunshine Group Homes, Inc. provides a clean, safe and structured environment for abused, abandoned, or neglected boys ranging from 5 to 18 years of age, and girls ranging from 4 to 17 years of age, who are in need of out-of-home placement.

The deadline for donations was November 26. But you may still contribute. Please make checks payable to State Bar of Arizona YLD and send to:

Erik J. Stone

YLD Holiday Party Committee

2901 N. Central Ave., Suite 800

Phoenix, AZ 85012

Volunteers Needed the Day of the Party

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011

Where: Peter Piper Pizza, 6821 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria, AZ 85345

If you are interested in volunteering at the 2011 Young Lawyers Division Holiday party please contact:

Erik Stone, 602-263-7309 estone@jshfirm.com

Nicole Severson, 520-371-3504 Nicole.severson@azbar.org

Below, you will find the complete flier with all the information.

As an unending election season fosters a pretty rigid “tough on crime” stance in all candidates, today’s annual ritual—a presidential pardon of a turkey—begins to look odder and odder.

This past hour, President Barack Obama stood before a gathering of reporters and, with his daughters at his side, issued a life-saving pardon for Apple and his “understudy,” Cider.

Here is the complete video:

Off-camera, a representative of the National Turkey Federation (you read that right) gripped the near-meal named Apple, which (who?) appeared blissfully unaware of the fate he had narrowly escaped.

One correspondent, Colby Hall, described the festivities with what I think is the appropriate level of incredulity. As the account opens:

“The official pardoning of a turkey in celebration of Thanksgiving is perhaps the most absurd ritual in a year’s worth of White House events. That’s sort of why it’s so awesome. Earlier today, President Obama pardoned his third turkey (THAT WE KNOW OF) and had some fun with the goofy tradition by gesticulating towards the big bird in a papal fashion — that is certain to anger someone somewhere — before officially declaring ‘you are hereby pardoned.’”

Read the complete account here.

As if there is not enough surrealism surrounding this holiday (I mean, there’s a National Turkey Federation!), take a look at this poll from the Washington Post. They took the time and resources to poll Americans on—their attitude toward Thanksgiving!

Tongue at least slightly in cheek, the reporter described the “findings,” which are broken down by gender and party.

“Consensus at last: almost all Americans—from coast to coast and across stiffening party lines— have favorable views of Thanksgiving dinner, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“Overall, 93 percent say they have positive views of the traditional meal, including 77 percent who say so ‘strongly.’”

“Strongly.” That one made me laugh. For added yuks, here’s their “data” in tabular form.Are we being punked?

Well, in any case, enjoy your Thanksgiving. The blog and I are taking the long weekend off. We will relax, eat too much, and return at least slightly refreshed next week. Here’s hoping Monday’s post won’t be too bloated.

I wish the same to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving.

Kim Demarchi, President-Elect of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, summed up a recent event well: “We focus on how the shape of our workplaces shapes our experiences within them.”

Demarchi was offering an introduction for a keynote speaker at the group’s annual convention on November 4. But the concern—creating successful workplaces or their opposite—is one that is shared by many in a difficult profession.

The special speaker was Jessica Natkin, a national expert on workplaces and retention efforts that improve them. She arrived from the Project for Attorney Retention for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

The Center is a national model and a leader in the topic. And Natkin’s pertinent remarks demonstrate why. (Full disclosure: I graduated from UC Hastings Law School in 1993, three years before the Center launched. And, while I’m at it, I am an AWLA member.)

Natkin’s lunchtime talk examined what it takes to have a successful law firm. But, going in, she acknowledged that the order was a tall one, given that our accepted model for success is based on “an ideal worker”—someone who lives and breathes for the workplace, one who “manifests a singular devotion” to work. In that rigid law office, according to one scholar, time becomes a proxy for dedication and excellence. In today’s society, Natkin said, a significant number of lawyers seek a work–life balance that is greater than that.

Kim Demarchi

She explained that “work-life” does not necessarily mean part-time, and it definitely does not mean reduced commitment to the job. In a world in which many firms are expecting 2,200 billable hours a year, “work-life” may often mean simply reclaiming a 40-hour workweek.

“Maternal wall bias” is one of the highest obstacles to women in the workforce, Natkin said. That is simply bias against women because they are or may become mothers. In that worldview, mothers are seen as less competent and committed than other lawyers.

Due that and other biases, women find themselves pushed out of the workplace. Women who are mothers are less likely to be hired, are offered a lower starting salary. And, researchers have found, mothers are held to higher standards of punctuality and performance.

In law firms, Natkin said, men are twice as likely as women to make partner. Women of color comprise only about three percent of the profession nationally. And less than one percent of equity partners in law firms are women of color.

Despite statistics like those, Natkin pointed out that work/life is not merely a woman’s problem: 70 percent of male attorneys and 71 percent of female attorneys report such conflict in their law firms, one in which the work to be accomplished never ends, and time outside work is seen as suspect by firm leaders. As one research respondent aptly put it, “It’s like a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.”

One possible solution to the dilemma, Natkin said, may lie in something called “balanced hours.” Though it may be similar to what we formerly called “part-time,” balanced hours is an individually tailored approach that also fits the firm’s business needs. “Balanced hours programs involve active management of workloads in proportion to reduced hours, emphasize client service, and promote the values of the firm.”

Jessica Natkin

Natkin also urged lawyers who seek to negotiate a better workplace to be open to the fact that there are occasional job emergencies: “We cannot be rigid. We must be flexible in our flexibility.” When those sometimes occur, she said, be prepared to pitch in.

Perhaps the law profession is pretty far from adopting solutions and approaches like those touted by the Center for WorkLife Law. In fact, many lawyers may reside comfortably in the notion that things are pretty good and change is unlikely—or unnecessary. If so, then perhaps the words of another research respondent—a woman who decided to vacate the profession—may give them pause:

“So I decided to quit, and this was a really, really big deal … because I never envisioned myself not working. I just felt like I would be a nobody if I quit. Well, I was sort of a nobody working, too. So it was sort of, ‘Which nobody do I want to be?’

Congratulations to the Arizona Women Lawyers Association for putting on another great program. More information on WorkLife is available here.

“It’s the economy, stupid,” may be the recurring voter mantra, according to a story today in the Arizona Republic. According to reporter Daniel González, jobs and the economy have eclipsed immigration as a significant factor in voters’ assessment:

“Heading into the 2012 election season, illegal immigration is no longer the red-hot political issue it was just a few years ago.

“This month’s recall of Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce shows the subject has peaked, according to some analysts.”

Well, maybe. But if the Pearce recall was about immigration, as the reporter suggests it was, and that recall happened just 13 days ago, then it may be a bit early to declare immigration dead on arrival. (You can read the whole article here.)

The November issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes a pointed article on one approach to illegal immigration. It is a federal endeavor called Operation Streamline.

As author Juan Rocha explains:

“To reduce and deter illegal immigration, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched Operation Streamline. Under this program, the federal government prosecutes a large number of people who illegally enter (or leave) the United States, and imprisons them. But prosecuting mass numbers of people, every day, cannot be done without taking shortcuts.

“Though journalists and academicians have written articles about whether Operation Streamline is or is not good public policy, what follows is a description of the actual Streamline process from the perspective of a defense attorney who has worked in Yuma and Tucson, where the federal government executes streamline prosecutions.”

Read the complete article here.

Does Streamline cut corners, as Rocha maintains? Others have agreed with our author. For instance, here is an article by Stephen Lemons in which he calls the initiative an “immigration boondoggle.” (And the great illustration used at the top of this post came from that article; it was created by artist Brian Stauffer.)

Though the economy appears to be taking center stage in political battles, we’ll continue to examine immigration and border issues in the coming year.

In that regard, what would you like to see us cover? Let me know by commenting below.

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