State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLast Thursday, John Phelps wrote candidly about violence against lawyers in an Arizona Republic op-ed.

John is the CEO/Executive Director of the State Bar of Arizona. Here is how he opened his editorial:

“The murders of Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels and his client Steven D. Singer are part of an unsettling trend in the legal world. Threats and violence are on the rise.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“In the same week that Hummels was murdered, a prosecutor in Texas, Mark Hasse, was also gunned down. Last year, an attorney in Yuma, Jerrold Shelley, was shot and killed by a man upset over a divorce.”

You can read his complete editorial here.

John goes on to discuss Steve Kelson, a Utah lawyer who has researched instances of violence against lawyers all across the country. (He is in the beginning steps of his process to do the same in Arizona in 2013.) The statistics Keslon reports in John’s op-ed are startling and should give us pause.

In his conclusion, John reminds us of attorneys’ highest duties: “Mark Hummels died after leaving a mediation. His death was the result of trying to find resolution. He died fulfilling Cicero’s belief that ‘we are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.’”

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Mark and Steve Singer’s family, friends and co-workers.”

John Phelps op-ed re Mark Hummels

News screen grab (referring to shooter Arthur Harmon)

UPDATE: This morning, a shooting in Delaware highlighted the flash point that the legal system can be. News reports indicate that multiple people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in a Wilmington courthouse. Identities of those killed and hurt have not yet been announced. But the final paragraph of the news article is revealing: “Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning, attending a roundtable on gun violence with Vice President Joe Biden and other law enforcement officials in Philadelphia, declined comment on the shooting and deferred to officials on the scene in Wilmington.”

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