January 5, 2012
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
This Sunday, January 8, Arizonans and many others around the country will recall a horrific shooting that killed six people and injured 13.
Though deaths by loaded weapon are relatively commonplace in this country, certain factors ensured that the Tucson shooting would ring in our memories far longer than the sound of the shots did. Among those felled were U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and U.S. District Court Judge John Roll. Giffords survived; Roll died.
I wrote about the event a few times in 2011, the first time just two days after the shooting:
“The lives of judges and Congress-folk are no more important than the lives of anyone else—not a jot. But a person of my age was raised on a nutritious diet of study—of history, of federalism, of the U.S. Constitution. We learned—and many of us still feel—that our government is OUR government.
“So when a criminal attacks a judge and a member of Congress, he takes arms against all of us. When he ratchets up political dissent to transform it into a chambered round, and then sends his rebellion hurtling out the end of a gun barrel, he aims it at every American citizen.”
(The complete post is here.)
Chief Judge John M. Roll
Since then, I’ve written about Giffords, the shooting, and the coverage of guns in the state more times than I would have guessed I ever would have.
This week, a PBS program shares some stories from survivors and aims to heal some of the wounds that have been made. Read more about it here.
Meanwhile, efforts at civil discourse continue. Another recent one featured former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Have a good and thoughtful weekend.
January 4, 2012
In one week, the submission window closes for those interested in participating in the annual Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition. I know: It came up fast.
But it’s true: All submissions must be received by us by the end of Wednesday, January 11. (And yes, before you ask, I will check until midnight on the 11th.)
As always, winners will be published in our amazing May issue, which always features the work of remarkably talented lawyers.
Here are the categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; Humor; Photography; Painting/Drawing; Sculpture; Music (original compositions and classical/jazz); Video
All submissions must be e-mailed to ArtsContest@azbar.org.
Questions? Click here to read the complete rules, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see the great work that took the prize last year, go here.
So there is still time. Buckle down, screw your courage to the sticking place, and email a submission or two. You—and our readers, I’m sure—will be glad you did.
Here’s looking to another great competition.
January 3, 2012
Just last week, I had a long conversation with a prestigious criminal-defense lawyer. He is concerned about the representation provided to the indigent in the criminal justice system.
“Concerned” may be putting it lightly. Perhaps “alarmed” may be more accurate.
His focus, I should assure you, is not necessarily on the run-of-the-mill criminal matter. His focus is on the problematic situation of death-penalty litigation.
This spring, I hope we will be able to publish a story on the topic. Extensive examination of many case files may reveal that many lawyers come to the representation less prepared and experienced than is ideal. Thus, those who face the possibility of the ultimate penalty may be ill served—which means, of course, society is ill served.
One thing this lawyer mentioned to me more than once stuck in my head: Reading case files reveals that lawyers too rarely take advantage of the opportunity to employ investigators. And as a result, important—perhaps fatal—avenues remain unexplored.
I must point out that this lawyer has the greatest respect for public defenders and the jobs they do with limited resources. Nonetheless, he felt compelled to examine best practices. That examination comprised the work of all defense lawyer, including private-practice lawyers.
That conversation came to mind last Wednesday when I came across a story titled “ACLU Critical of Public Defender System.” It comes from the Hungry Horse News, out of Columbia Falls, Montana, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
(You may follow the Hungry Horse News on Facebook. Why would you do that? Well, I’ve begun doing it myself, for perhaps the best reason I can imagine: They proudly announce, “It remains one of the few newspapers in America published in a log building.” Unverified, but cool nonetheless.)
In any case, the story indicates that the ACLU shares some of the same concerns that the lawyer communicated to me.
What do you think? Does capital defense lack anything? What improvements should be made? And what effect could changes have on the outcome of such cases?
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