Convention


Bill Klain AZBAR member of the year 2013

Bill Klain, State Bar of Arizona 2013 Member of the Year

’Tis the season … to honor someone who deserves it.

I’m pleased to report that you still have a few days left to nominate an Arizona attorney for a prestigious award from the State Bar of Arizona. The awards will be given at this June’s Bar Convention in Tucson, and there may be no better way to recognize the highest commitment to the legal profession.

To give an idea of how moving the awards can be, here are the words of Bill Klain, who was the Bar’s 2013 member of the year:

“Receiving the Member of the Year award was both gratifying and humbling. While I greatly appreciate the Bar’s recognition of my work to improve civil practice and procedure through my committee service and involvement with continuing legal education, the award results from the collective efforts of a large number of people devoted to improving our justice system and with whom I have had the good fortune to collaborate. I am proud of the work we have accomplished and appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to these group efforts.”

In your own life and practice, you have likely come across an attorney or two worthy of recognition. Here is a description of what the Bar seeks:

“Each year the State Bar of Arizona honors members of the legal profession who go above and beyond. We want to know who you think should be recognized this year. Take a look at the awards listed below and think about lawyers you know who make a difference. There is even an award for a non-lawyer who helps the public understand justice and the legal profession.”

The deadline to submit nominations is March 26th at 5 p.m. That’s this Wednesday. Nominating is simplicity itself. Just write a letter telling the Bar about the person’s achievements and why they deserve the award. Send it to:

State Bar of Arizona

Awards Committee

c/o Nina Benham

4201 N. 24th St., Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266

Or email it to her at Nina.Benham@staff.azbar.org

The Bar has created a helpful page that provides detailed descriptions of the nine awards. It also includes a link to a list of previous winners.

Now the ball is in your court. You have two days to write a letter (brief or otherwise) nominating someone for an award. Get to drafting.

Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, attorney Larry Hammond rose to shed light on a vital issue: legal representation for those who cannot afford it.

He is the chair of the Indigent Defense Task Force, and on October 25, he asked the board to form a State Indigent Defense Commission. It would be charged with examining that intractable problem and suggesting solutions.

How intractable? Well, as Larry noted, we are in the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright and we’re still wrestling with it.

In fact, I wonder how much has changed since the issuance of noteworthy reports like Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” (2003) and Gideon Undone: The Crisis in Indigent Defense Funding” (1982)?

(All of that, and more, are available on an ABA page dedicated to studies of the indigent defense system in the United States.)

Here is one of the things Larry said to the Governors in his appeal to create a commission:

“It is not just the duty of defense lawyers and victim advocates. We all must believe that competent, adequately funded representation is a part of all of our jobs.”

Do you agree?

I’ve invited Larry to write something for Arizona Attorney Magazine on the topic, both the crisis and the recommended response. I’ll keep you informed.

The Arizona Attorney Facebook page sports a new button on June 21, 2013.

During Convention, the Arizona Attorney Facebook page sported a new button in recognition of the AWLA Breakfast.

Amidst the bustle of an annual conference, it’s always a pleasure to find a quiet but impressive respite.

That is the dual role played annually by the breakfast of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, this year held on Friday, June 21.

The breakfast is a scholarship fundraiser, but it’s also an opportunity to honor a recipient for the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, AWLA’s top recognition.

This year’s honoree was Dee-Dee Samet, Tucson lawyer and member of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors.

Dee-Dee Samet receives the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, June 21, 2013.

Dee-Dee Samet receives the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, June 21, 2013.

Dee-Dee was introduced by friend and attorney Jean Gage, who pointed out that the recipient was “president of almost every board she’s a part of.”

Gage praised Samet and offered the large audience a “double-dose of Dee-Dee.” She reminded listeners that Samet is “a tenacious fighter for the underdog” as well as a tireless fundraiser.

“She is the only person I know who can be in two places at the same time.”

Attendees at AWLA Breakfast, June 21, 2013.

Attendees at AWLA Breakfast, June 21, 2013.

Audience members smiled when Gage said, “If the measure of wealth is friends, Dee-Dee is fabulously wealthy.”

Samet has always been willing to offer a hand or advice, Gage said. She encourages women to apply for the Board of Governors, get on the bench or to change their career path to another legal practice area. And in so doing, she conveys to mentees a confidence Samet herself possesses: “Dee-Dee does not stay at the back of any line.”

When Samet rose to accept her award, she promised to “keep it short and sweet, like me.”

That she did, as she encouraged all lawyers to help others: “That’s how you make your life worthwhile.”

The persistent advocate reminded the audience to be persistent but enjoy life.

“As opponents, we fight hard, then look for some shoes, and then drink some wine.”

Finally, Dee-Dee remained indefatigable, encouraging her colleagues to participate in the Convention’s silent auction.

“Don’t forget to contribute,” she exclaimed that morning, and always.

Great Convention addition: My AWLA pin

Great Convention addition: My AWLA pin (click to enlarge)

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

On the Tuesday before the State Bar Convention begins, the Board of Governors holds its June board meeting. It takes most of the afternoon (OK, the whole afternoon), but it does have its charms.

First of all, it’s the last board meeting over which the outgoing President presides. That means Tuesday was Amelia Craig Cramer’s last meeting. She was a pleasure to work with, and we were lucky to have her lead the Bar in the past year.

Others, too, cycle off the board at that meeting. And it is always great to hear the warm best wishes uttered among people who work hard together and often do not have a free minute to commiserate and visit as friends. The June meeting provides that opportunity.

The passing of the gavel includes a few gifts to the outgoing President. Amelia wanted the Bar to donate to the Foundation the money they would have spent on her gift—and so they will. But she still receives (whether she likes it or not) a gift of a leather-bound year of Arizona Attorney Magazine. She opened the gift, smiled, and then mentioned that with the Bar’s green and paperless initiative, this may be the last year the gift will be possible. Gulp. I’ll take that as being part of her great sense of humor!

Another tradition that’s arisen is the oh-so-brief crowning of the Incoming President. And so we got to view the already-tall Whitney Cunningham achieve a truly regal height. He generously allowed a photo or three as Amelia placed the velvet and ermine piece on his head, but then declined to wear it further—being a man of the people, I suppose (me, I would have worn that around the Biltmore throughout the Convention’s duration!).

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

The reveal: Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer displays her crowned successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Congratulations and thanks to Amelia, Whitney and all those others who offer their time and more in service to Arizona’s lawyers.

Booker T. Evans is in the house -- as he emceed (and sang) for the Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

Booker T. Evans is in the house — as he emceed (and sang) for the Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

The Thursday night party has become a loud and raucous staple of the Bar Convention. As I write this late Thursday night, my ears still ring as testament to that fact.

I did not get photos of all the bands in action—I must confess I was enjoying conversation too much to snap pictures. But I did get a shot of one band (Guilty as Sin) while on stage. Expand your imagination to place your own favorite band in that space.

Guilty as Sin on stage at the Biltmore for the State Bar of Arizona Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

Guilty as Sin on stage at the Biltmore for the State Bar of Arizona Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

The evening’s host was lawyer Booker T. Evans, and he took a few moments between acts to serenade the appreciative crowd. Quite the crooner, that one.

Battle of the Lawyer Bands big check

Yes, that’s a big check, destined for those with a big sound.

When it comes to the band-battle portion of the evening, I had a surprise in store. Because I pay attention too little, I did not realize that real cash-money is at stake. I understood that the audience voted, but I had guessed that bragging rights were at stake, not dollar signs. But as I sat with colleagues just outside the Grand Ballroom (so that we could hear each other), I saw staff gathering up three of those Publishers Clearinghouse-type checks.

I immediately thought two things: I must take my voting privilege seriously. And I should have been far more diligent in my sixth-grade guitar instruction. Live and learn.

All the bands were great, and here are photos of the third, second and first-place winners.

Leon Silver accepts the third-place check for Guilty as Sin.

Leon Silver accepts the third-place check for Guilty as Sin.

Second-place winner Los Big Grandes

Second-place winner Los Big Grandes

First-place The Gotes

First-place winner The Gotes

And let me end with another shot of the inimitable Booker Evans.

Booker T. Evans

Booker T. Evans

Rock on.

The 2013 luncheon of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education once again recognized some of the finest lawyers in the state for their commitment to access to justice in Arizona.

Attorney Barbara Dawson accepting the Foundation's 2013 Walter E. Craig Award, June 20, 2013, Arizona Biltmore Resort.

Attorney Barbara Dawson accepting the Foundation’s 2013 Walter E. Craig Award, June 20, 2013, Arizona Biltmore Resort.

The following attorneys were honored:

  • Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch: Hon. Mark Santana LRE Award
  • Ellen S. Katz: Foundation for Justice Award
  • Stanley Friedman: William E. Morris Award
  • Barbara Dawson: Walter E. Craig Award

Congratulations to all the recipients.

The State Bar was also represented at the luncheon. Chief Communications Officer Rick DeBruhl led a conversation with CBS5 reporter Dave Cherry. They illuminated the audience on media and law.

And Incoming Bar President Whitney Cunningham brought the specifics when he urged five strategies on attendees who want to give back but are not sure how to begin:

  1. Take a pro bono case via one of the established legal aid organizations.
  2. When you cannot take on an entire case or matter, provide limited-scope representation.
  3. Ghost-write legal papers for an unrepresented person.
  4. Sign up for the Modest Means Program.
  5. Become a Foundation Fellow.

    Incoming State Bar President Whitney Cunningham, June 20, 2013.

    Incoming State Bar President Whitney Cunningham, June 20, 2013.

Cunningham included two fascinating statistics in his presentation:

  • If every lawyer in Arizona provided only half of the pro bono time recommended by Rule 6.1, its value would be greater than the $80 million cut from the Legal Services Corporation budget.
  • Becoming a Foundation Fellow (which nonlawyers may do too) will cost you $16.67 per month. That is approximately equal to one double-shot soy latter per day. Cunningham claims to have lost 20 pounds since he signed on.

The luncheon remains a high point in the Convention. Well done to all involved.

Dr. William Meinecke, Jr., State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 19, 2013.

Dr. William Meinecke, Jr., State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 19, 2013.

A seminar titled “What You Do Matters” challenged Arizona lawyers at Wednesday’s State Bar Convention to confront a disturbing history of an esteemed legal system. When German lawyers and judges bent to pressure and ultimately cooperated with the Nazi government, they essentially became collaborators in the horrors of the Holocaust. A distinguished panel of lawyers and scholars explored a profession’s culpability in state-sponsored murder.

How does a system of justice become that in name only?

William Meinecke, Jr., a historian from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, traced the stunning devolution of a system of laws that previously had enshrined personal freedoms and ensured a just society.

As German society faced numerous social and economic ills, the Nazi Party sprang up and provided radical commentary on the mainstream government led by President Paul von Hindenburg. Finally, as an attempt to wrangle and coopt the young and loud Nazis, Hindenburg named Adolph Hitler the nation’s Chancellor in 1933. Meinecke said that Hindenburg thought the Nazis would play the role of “junior partners,” and that the coopted group could not criticize the government anymore. A compromise would be forged, and Nazi radicalism could be kept in check.

That compromise crumbled in short order. A significant government building, the Reichstag, was burned in an arson. The new Chancellor asked for—and got—emergency powers to regain public control. The emergency decree extinguished substantial parts of the constitution in regard to individual rights and liberties.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk

Like Shakespeare’s Dick the Butcher centuries before, Hitler viewed lawyers and laws as an impediment. Meinecke quoted the dictator on the topic: “Lawyers are people who are faulty since birth or made that way thru usage.”

As a result, the legal system could stand wherever it propped up Hitler’s vision. When it offered resistance, it was subverted. In significant areas, there would be no judicial oversight. Police decisions that infringed on liberties were determined to be outside judicial review. And at important junctures, fearful judges and courts breathed a sigh of relief as their jurisdiction was stripped.

“Law gave him a blank check,” Meinecke said.

He then described in searing detail three example of the depth of the cooperation that helped lead to the murder of 6 million people. The three instances involved areas of focus reviewed by courts thousand times a day: a contracts case, a parenting matter, and an arson—of the Reichstag.

Using the words of the laws and the opinions of the court, the speaker provided a damning indictment of a system bent on self-preservation—at horrific cost.

In each case, Meinecke said, “The court followed the law and ended up with injustice.”

The afternoon’s other panelists revealed the pertinent lessons we can learn in the United States and in Arizona.

ASU Law Professor David Kader offered insights largely drawn from the Nuremburg war trials that followed the war. He ably described the “incremental progressive corruption” that gripped Germany and has done so around the world far more recently. The difference, he said, is that “We have international tools now. We just need the will to use them.”

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had brought to Arizona the coordinated training via the Holocaust Museum. That led to ethics training for prosecutors, judges and ultimately the National Conference of Chief Justices. As moderator Jerry Landau described it, “That training changed my life.”

On Wednesday’s panel, Polk described the training and read some of the feedback she’s received from attorneys, police officers and investigators, and detention officers. As one detention officer described it, the training gave “a wide angle view of personal responsibility in a bureaucracy”—similar to the situation lawyers faced in the Third Reich.

It fell to former Chief Justice Ruth McGregor to urge the attendees to make ethical connections to their own lives and their own government.

Forner Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, June 19, 2013

Forner Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, June 19, 2013

“It is important to ask if there was something lacking in German legal system. But we should be concerned when groups call the courts ‘just another interest’ that should follow popular opinion,” or when politicians suggest jurisdiction stripping. She added that there is current pressure in some quarters to remove the judicial power of review.

“We must remain informed and concerned about things that may reduce the adherence to the rule of law.”

Thankfully, McGregor brought the rule of law question forward to meet facts that Americans learned only in the past month. She suggested that the acquisition of personal data by the American government via the NSA should be a matter of broad dialogue.

“I should know where our government has struck the balance between privacy and security. And do we truly understand the FISA court? As legal professionals, we should be able to consider and answer those questions.

Panelists of "Lawyering Political Environment," June 19, 2013

Panelists of “Lawyering in a Political Environment,” June 19, 2013

The State Bar Convention offers a multitude of learning opportunities. But I’m only one guy, so I opted to attend a morning seminar titled “Lawyering in a Political Environment.” It was deemed a President’s Award winner, and it seemed a good way to start my own 2013 Convention experience.

L to R: Kelly Schwab, Joe Kanefield

L to R: Kelly Schwab, Joe Kanefield

Here’s what I discovered: The first seminar in the first day of the annual State Bar Convention largely had to do with a lawyer who had been disbarred by the State Bar. Quite a morning. But in that regard, the educational offering was probably unique among seminars that could be offered at bar conferences nationwide. Arizona is an interesting place.

The conversation was far ranging, but panelists and their moderator Robert Robb found themselves, more often than not, addressing ethical challenges created by former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas—now disbarred. And because of that, the seminar was a timely and relevant presentation to a packed house of attorneys who had learned firsthand about the risks of blending law and politics.

The panel was a powerhouse one:

  • Former United States Attorney Paul Charlton
  • Former Governor’s Counsel Joe Kanefield
  • Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
  • Former Pinal County Attorney Jim Walsh
  • Attorney Kelly Schwab

Robb asked panelists to offer their general views about lawyering in a public setting.

Paul Charlton opened by saying that “Public service is a noble enterprise. Every day your one, monolithic goal is to give back.”

L to R: Robert Robb. Jim Walsh, Paul Charlton

L to R: Robert Robb, Jim Walsh, Paul Charlton

He continued by discussing his most difficult decision as United States Attorney—one that had career-changing implications.

“My most difficult decision? Whether to seek the death penalty.”

Charlton made a choice that did not square with the thinking of the United States Attorney General and so, he said, “I got fired for it.”

“How do you deal with those who take a political view of the world, or with those who think the death penalty should be sought—not pursued—in every situation?”

Bill Montgomery stepped into an office in which the top prosecutor had made politicizing legal decisions the norm. Montgomery says his focus has been on changing that atmosphere.

“It’s about knowing what’s right and wrong, not what’s right and left.”

Joe Kanefield recalled the biggest challenge faced by lawyers in state government: “resisting pressure to pursue legal remedies for political challenges.”

Moderator Robb asked the panel if elected attorneys are “special” because they serve voters first.

“Andy Thomas thought he was special,” said Robb. “But who is the client? Should the criminal and civil functions be separated” to reduce the possibility of overreaching?

No, said Charlton. “I’d say that’s a solution in search of a problem,” because instances like that are rare, “except that we do have Andrew Thomas in our recent history.”

“But that was an aberration,” he continued. “Though it was awful for anyone caught in Thomas’ crosshairs,” the legal community generally “catches” such behavior before it becomes egregious.

Robb kept the focus on specifics when spoke about Bill Montgomery’s recent legal advice to County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox that she had a conflict in regard to the county’s civil suit involving Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But the focus remained on a former prominent attorney.

Charlton said, “It was right to go after Andrew Thomas; it was right to take his license.”

L to R: Paul CHarlton, Bill Montgomery, Kelly Schwab

L to R: Paul Charlton, Bill Montgomery, Kelly Schwab

The whirlwind seminar included conversation about prosecutions of former Congressman Rick Renzi, Senator Ted Stevens, major league ballplayer Roger Clemens and others. And it extended beyond the practical challenges that prosecutors—especially elected prosecutors—face daily. It winded up with a discussion of possible changes to the Ethical Rules to accommodate the unique situations they may face. And at least one panelist recommended that young line prosecutors need a place to turn when challenges arise.

“We used to call them an ombudsman,” said Jim Walsh. “But whatever they’re called, we need someone in prosecutor offices that those attorneys can go to” when they develop the sense they are being asked to do questionable things to further political ends.

Twitter on wallKeep up with what’s happening at the State Bar Annual Convention by following http://twitter.com/azatty!  Get short, timely messages (including photos, speaker presentations and more) from Arizona Attorney Magazine’s staff. If you, your firm or employer are active on Twitter, just insert the hashtag #azbarcon into all of your Convention tweets to allow them to be read and searched by fellow attendees and the entire legal community.

Can’t attend Convention but want to know what’s going on? You also should follow http://twitter.com/azatty

The Twitter links will take you to updates in our Convention Daily—news items and photos that will appear on the magazine blog, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and in our News Center:

For more detail click on the image below to enlarge.

Twitter at Convention flier 2013

State Bar of Arizona logoWhat follows is a great summary of this week’s State Bar of Arizona Convention, as written by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona today kicks off its 2013 Annual Convention at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. More than 1,700 attorneys from across the state will convene and participate in the 80th annual convention on June 19-21.

This year, the convention will offer more than 45 seminars, nationally recognized speakers, unique social and networking opportunities, along with a silent auction benefitting the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education.

The State Bar of Arizona’s ongoing commitment to technology has lead to several cutting-edge advances. Among them, the popular mobile app that provides convenient access to seminar schedules and speakers, social events and locations, as well as a sitemap to help attendees navigate through the convention with ease. 

Convention Highlights:

  • Hon. Alan C. Page, Minnesota’s first African American Supreme Court Justice and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, will deliver an inspiring keynote address at the State Bar Luncheon on Friday, June 21 from noon to 2 p.m.
  • A distinguished panel including Hon. Ruth V. McGregor, Retired Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court; Hon. Mary Murguia of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Hon. Scott Bales, Vice Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court; and Debra Erenburg, Director of State Affairs for the Justice at Stake Campaign will explore the history of judicial independence and current trends developing on the national stage and Arizona. They will prompt discussions regarding attacks threatening the independent administration of justice on Friday, June 21, 2013 from 8:45 a.m. to 12 noon.
  • Whitney Cunningham of Flagstaff will be introduced as incoming president of the State Bar of Arizona.

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